Understanding Family-Based Immigration

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Understanding Family-Based Immigration

When citizens and lawful permanent residents of the United States wish to bring family members from other countries over to America, they can sponsor their relatives who wish to obtain a family-based visa. The USCIS offers two types of family-based visas and the type applied for depends on the relationship to the American citizen or lawful permanent resident. To give you and your family member the best chance of a positive outcome, it is important to understand what type of family-based visa to apply for, and to speak to an Illinois immigration attorney who can help.

Immediate Relative Visas

For many individuals, being sponsored by an American citizen or lawful permanent resident that is also a family member is the first step to obtaining legal permanent resident status or citizenship for themselves. Individuals that can apply for these visas include:

  • Spouses of American citizens
  • Parents of adult American citizens
  • Unmarried children of American citizens
  • Orphans that were internationally adopted by American citizens
  • Orphans that were adopted by an American citizen but their adoption is still pending

There is no limit on the amount of Immediate Relative visas that are available, and any number of immigrants can apply for this type of visa every year. 

Family Preference Visas

Family Preference visas are limited, so only a certain number of people are approved for these types of visas every year. These visas are divided into the following categories:

  • Family First Preference (F1): This category applies to children of American citizens that are not married, as well as their minor children, if applicable.
  • Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses of American permanent lawful residents and their adult children that are not married fall into this category.
  • Family Third Preference (F3): Children of American citizens that are married, as well as any of their minor children and their spouses, fall into this category.
  • Family Fourth Preference (F4): This category of Family Preference visas includes siblings of adult American citizens, as well as their minor children and spouses, if applicable.

The categories are numbered as they are because they are listed according to preference. So, for example, family members that fall into the Family Second Preference category are given more consideration and will likely receive a visa before individuals in the Family Fourth Preference category. It is also important to apply for the appropriate type of visa, as applying for the wrong preference type can greatly delay an application and, therefore, a person securing their visa.

Our Illinois Immigration Lawyers can Help with Your Application

The visa application process can be quite complex. If you are applying for a visa or sponsoring a family member, our Chicago immigration lawyers at Kriezelman, Burton & Associates, LLC can help. We can advise on which type of visa you may qualify for, assist with the application process, and give you the best chance of a positive outcome. Call us today or contact us online to arrange a consultation with one of our attorneys so we can get started on your case.