US Family-Based​ Immigration program: All You Need To Know...
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All You Need To Know About US Family-Based​ Immigration program



US Family-Based Immigration program helps US residents to bring their family members permanently to the United States. This category includes immediate relatives of US citizens and family preference categories such as spouses, unmarried children, married children of US citizens, and other eligible relatives of US citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs).

US Family-Based​ Immigration

The main purpose of the Family-Based Immigration Program is to unite families. This is why it allows immigrants to sponsor their spouses, minor children, and parents of any age who are not financially able to support themselves.


The history of U.S. immigration policy

The United States has a long history of immigration, dating back to the founding of the country. The first immigrants were from England and other parts of Europe. Over time, the immigrant population has diversified, with people coming from all over the world. Today, the United States welcomes people from all over the world who want to build a better life for themselves and their families.

What Exactly is Family-Based Immigration?

Family-based immigration allows United States citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPR) to bring their family members into the country. The most common form of legal immigration, family-based immigration makes up two-thirds of immigration into the United States.

Everything You Need to Know About US Family-Based Petitions

The process works by allowing citizens and LPRs to sponsor certain family members for a green card. To be eligible for a visa, you must be an immediate family member or within the family preference category of a sponsor. The entire process includes a minimum of two family members, a petitioner, and a beneficiary.

Family-Based Immigrant Visa Categories

There are two groups of family-based immigrant visa categories: Immediate Relative and Family Preference.

1). Immediate Relative

These visa types are based on a close family relationship with a United States citizen.

  • IR-1: Spouse of a U.S. Citizen
  • IR-2: Unmarried Child Under 21 Years of Age of a U.S. Citizen
  • IR-3: Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. Citizen
  • IR-4: Orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen
  • IR-5: Parent of a U.S. Citizen who is at least 21 years old

2). Family Preference

These visa types are for specific, more distant, family relationships with a U.S. citizen and some specified relationships with an LPR.

  • Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children, if any.
  • Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of LPRs.
  • Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children.
  • Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age.

There are unlimited visas available in the Immediate Relative group, whereas there are a specific amount of Family Preference visas available annually.

The 4 Steps to Applying for a US Family Visa

There are specific steps to follow in order for a U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident to successfully sponsor a family member. These are:

  1. U.S. citizen or permanent resident files visa petition
  2. USCIS makes a decision on the visa petition
  3. Family Preference relatives wait until a visa becomes available
  4. Immigrant applies for an immigrant visa or Green Card

Step 1: Filing the Petition

To begin the sponsorship process, the U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident family member will need to mail a visa petition on USCIS Form I-130, along with accompanying documents, to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The LRP must prove the family relationship is real.

Step 2: USCIS Makes a Decision

Once USCIS receives the petition, the officers will consider whether to approve or deny the request. If approved, the case file will be forwarded to the National Visa Center for further processing. If denied, it is possible for the petitioner to file a new petition after determining what changes need to be made to encourage approval.

Family-based Immigration To the USA as a Verified Citizen

Upon approval, USCIS will forward the immigrant’s case file to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing.


Step 3: Preference Relatives Wait for Visa Availability

This step only takes place if the petitioner was in the Family Preference group. Relatives that are not considered “immediate” are not eligible for permanent residence right away, as there are annual limits on the number of Green Cards that can be approved. Thus, the immigrant joins a waiting list, and will usually wait at least a year before learning if a visa is available.

Step 4: Immigrant Applies for Visa or Green Card

If the petition has been approved, and a visa has become available, the immigrant would then submit an application for permanent residence. This is usually done by applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate outside the United States, and then once in the states, the immigrant would apply for a Green Card. During the ensuing process, called “consular processing”, the immigrant will be required to fill out various forms, provide documents and take part in a medical examination.

Getting Married to a U.S. Citizen

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers a path to citizenship for foreign nationals who marry U.S. citizens through the family-based immigration program. The process begins when the U.S. citizen sponsor files an immigrant petition on behalf of their spouse with USCIS. If the petition is approved, the foreign national spouse will be issued a green card and will be able to live and work in the United States permanently. There are a few things to keep in mind if you are considering this path to citizenship

Residency Status and Traveling Abroad

When you receive your immigrant visa, you will be a permanent resident of the United States. You will be allowed to live and work permanently in the United States. However, if you want to travel outside the United States, you must have a passport from your country of citizenship.

You should also get a Reentry Permit if you plan to be outside the United States for more than one year. If you are a permanent resident but do not have a passport from your country of citizenship, you may be able to get a Limited Validity Passport. If you want to move to another country, you will need to apply for a new immigrant visa.

Frequently Asked Questions About US Family Immigration

However, here we are going to list the best frequently asked questions about US family immigration. Therefore, we are going to answer all the questions for you here:

What Are Family-Based Petitions?

Family Based Petitions allow for individuals in the United States to sponsor their families to immigrate to the United States. The Immigration and Nationality Act allows for the immigration of foreigners to the United States based on a relationship with a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.

Can a U.S. Citizen Sponsor a Family Member?

If you are a U.S. Citizen, you may petition for the following relatives, as long as you can prove the relationships:

  • Husband or wife;
  • Unmarried children under 21 years old;
  • Unmarried son or daughter over 21 years old;
  • Married son or daughter of any age;
  • Brother (s) or Sisters(s), if you are at least 21 years old.
  • Mother or father, if you are at least 21 years old

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Can a Green Card Holder Sponsor a Family Member?

If you are a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), you may petition for the following relatives, as long as you can prove the relationships:

  • Husband or wife;
  • Unmarried child under 21 years of age;
  • Unmarried son or daughter over 21 years of age.

What Happens After You Petition for a Relative?

If your relative is already in the United States, they may apply to adjust status to become a Green Card holder (lawful permanent resident) after a visa number becomes available using Form I-485. If your relative is outside the United States, your petition will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC).

The NVC will forward your petition to the appropriate U.S. consulate when a visa becomes available and your relative will be notified about how to proceed. This process is referred to as “consular processing.”

Family Sponsorship Processing Time

On average, the I-130 (family sponsorship visa) filed by your sponsor takes between 6 to 12 months to be processed. The USCIS processes the petition on a first-come, first-served basis. Your sponsor can expedite the process by submitting the form as early as possible.

Who can a US Citizen Sponsor?

US Citizens can sponsor family members and employees! Family Based Petitions allow US Citizens to sponsor immediate or family preference members which include children, spouses, parents, grandparents, and siblings.

What Relatives Can a U.S. Citizen Sponsor?

US Citizens can sponsor family members that fall under two categories: Immediate Relative or Family Preference.

Immediate Relatives include:

  • spouse
  • unmarried children under 21
  • orphans
  • parents

Family Preference includes:

  • married and unmarried children over 21 and their children
  • spouses and children of Green Card holders
  • siblings, their spouses & children


The United States has a long history of family-based immigration, which has played an important role in the growth and development of the country. The family-based immigration system is designed to reunite families and promote economic stability.

A Guide to Family Sponsorship: Dependent Children and Who Can Sponsor Them

However, the process can be complex and challenging. It is important to understand the requirements and steps involved in the family-based immigration process before beginning the process. For more information visit POPTALKZ.COM Happy travels!

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