People who come to the United States understandably want their families to have the same opportunities they enjoy. So, they may seek family based immigration options. However, immigration can be a complex issue, often requiring extensive paperwork, interviews, and extended wait times.
An experienced Columbus, OH immigration lawyer can make the process a little easier easier. Contact Nesbit Law Office today at (614) 389-9073. We can work with you to develop a plan to help your relatives obtain a family based immigrant visa and share their lives with you.
What Is Family Based Immigration?
People come to America for many different reasons – to obtain an education, to work, and to find new opportunities. When people petition for their relatives or future relatives, such as a fiancé or adoptive child, to immigrate to the United States, they are participating in family based immigration.
The United States allows for the following people to help family members or potential family members immigrate:
- U.S. citizens
- Green card holders
- Permanent residents
- Refugees admitted within the past two years or granted asylum within the past two years
The process of family based immigration can be extremely complex. You must provide proof of relationship and many other factors to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. A skilled immigration lawyer can help you obtain a family based immigrant visa for yourself or your loved one.
Types of Family Based Immigrant Visas
U.S. law allows for relatives to help their family members immigrate. However, there are many restrictions and provisions of U.S. immigration laws that you must follow. By understanding the different types of family based immigration, you can better help your loved ones come to America.
There are two types of family based immigrant visas:
Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas
Some people also refer to these as “unlimited relative immigrant visas.” They allow people with close family relationships to immigrate to the United States. An immediate relative (IR) of a U.S. citizen may seek the following type of close relative visas:
- Spouses: IR-1 visa
- Unmarried children under 21 years old: IR-2 visa
- Orphans adopted abroad: IR-3 visa
- Orphans to be adopted in the U.S.: IR-4 visa
- Parents: IR-5 visa
The U.S. citizen seeking the visa for their foreign national relative must be at least 21 years of age. When the U.S. citizen submits a Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, the foreign national will receive a visa number from the National Visa Center. Then, they must appear at a U.S. embassy or consulate within their home country to take part in the visa process. This may include inspection of additional documents, an interview, and a background check.
Family Preference Immigrant Visas
Sometimes called “limited relative immigrant visas,” these allow for more distant relatives of U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, green card holders, permanent residents, or refugees to immigrate to the United States.
However, unlike IR immigrant visas, there are a limited number of family preference immigrant visas available each year. This results in a long wait list for extended family members who wish to immigrate to the United States.
The following relatives may obtain family preference immigrant visas:
- Unmarried children of U.S. citizens and their minor children. These Family First Preference or F1 visas are limited to 23,400 per year.
- Spouses, minor children, and unmarried children of legal permanent residents. These Family Second Preference or F2 visas are limited to 114,200 per year.
- Married children of U.S. citizens and their spouses and minor children. These Family Third Preference or F3 visas are limited to 23,400 per year.
- Siblings of U.S. citizens and their spouse and minor children. These Family Fourth Preference or F4 visas are limited to 65,000 per year.
In most cases, the person petitioning for a visa for their relative must be a U.S. citizen. He or she must also be at least 21 years old. However, legal permanent residents such as green card holders and refugees may also sponsor their close relatives. Family based immigration is not available for grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws.
How Long Does Family Based Immigration Take?
Immediate relative immigrant visas can take a few months; however family preference immigrant visas can take years to process. There is an unlimited number of immediate relative immigrant visas available each year, so the government processes them fairly quickly.
However, because there are a limited number of visas for extended family members, the government places many people on a wait list. The system issues family preference immigrant visas in chronological order based on date of the petition, also called “priority date.” Because it can take so long to obtain a family based immigrant visa, it’s important to complete the necessary paperwork and process quickly. By working with a skilled Columbus, OH immigration lawyer, you can reduce the amount of time it takes you to obtain a priority date.
U.S. Citizen Petition vs. Lawful Permanent Resident Petition
In many cases, a U.S. citizen has priority over a lawful permanent resident (LPR), such as a green card holder, when seeking a visa for a family member. For example, a U.S. citizen who seeks an immediate relative immigrant visa for their spouse is not limited by how many can be given annually. They may thus be able to obtain a visa quickly. However, an LPR seeking a visa for their spouse is limited to 114,200 per year. It can therefore take years to obtain. Thus, it is often easier for a U.S. citizen to obtain a family based immigration visa.
If you are an LPR and become a U.S. citizen during the process of obtaining a visa for a family member, then your status and immigration request would change. You can submit proof of naturalization to the National Visa Center and change the type of visa you are seeking. This can greatly benefit your loved ones. It can cut down on the wait time to obtain a family based immigration visa.
Contact Nesbit Law Office About Family Based Immigration
If you have questions about family based immigration and how to obtain a visa for your loved ones, contact Nesbit Law Office today. We will evaluate your situation and help you understand the legal process. You don’t have to undertake this process alone. We can help. Call us at 614) 389-9073 to start the process of obtaining a family based immigration visa.