One of the ways immigrants come to the U.S. legally is by obtaining family-based immigrant visas. Such visas are defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and fall into two categories: Immediate Relatives and Family Preferences.
Immediate Relative (IR) Immigrant Visas
IR immigrant visas are not numerically limited. This means that any number of immigrants in this category can enter the U.S. legally during any fiscal year. IR visas are separated into 5 separate categories, depending on the precise relationship of the immigrant to a U.S. citizen. Immediate Relative Immigrant visas are available as follows:
- IR-1 Spouses of a U.S. citizen
- IR-2 Unmarried children (under the age of 21) of a U.S. citizen
- IR-3 Orphans adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen
- IR-4 Orphans about to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen
- IR-5 Parents of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old
Same-sex spouses and their minor children are now eligible for the same immigration benefits as opposite-sex spouses as long as same-sex marriages are valid in the state where performed.
Family Preference Immigrant Visas
Family preference immigrant visas are available for more distant family members of U.S. citizens as well as for individuals in specifically defined relationships with Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) of this country. Unlike IR immigrant visas, family preference immigrant visas are numerically restricted and, partly for this reason, typically take much longer to obtain.
There are four subcategories of family preference immigrant visas:
- F1 Applicable to grown (unmarried) children of U.S. citizens and their minor children
- F2 Applicable to spouses, minor children, and unmarried grown children of LPRs
- F3 Applicable to married children of U.S. citizens, their spouses and minor children
- F4 Applicable to brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old and their minor children
Although it may appear arbitrary and unfair, other arguably close relatives, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws and cousins cannot sponsor a relative for immigration.
Required Documentation for Family-Based Immigration
As a prerequisite, sponsors of family-based immigrants must be at least 21 years of age and maintain their primary residence in the U.S. In addition, the family members who seek visas through their sponsorship must have the following documents:
- Affidavit of Support from the U.S. sponsor
- Application for Alien Registration
- Civil documents, such as birth or marriage certificates, with any necessary translations
- Completed medical forms
- Passports valid for 6 months beyond the proposed date of entry into the U.S.
- Two documents with identifying photographs
Services Talamantes Immigration Law Provides
Our firm is fully committed to being proactive in protecting the rights and safety of you and your family. Among other services we:
- Determine the right visas for family members wishing to live in the U.S.
- Help individuals complete application requests for visas
- Appear on behalf of immigrants in hearings or interviews required by visa requests
- Assist with I-601A waivers for relatives of U.S. citizens
- Assist family members who have been previously deported
Processing Delays in Obtaining Family-Preference Immigration Visas
The major reason for delays in obtaining family-preference immigration visas is that there are numerical limits. Unfortunately, this may mean that individuals defined as more distant relatives by the U.S. government may experience much longer delays in processing than those who are more closely related to the American sponsor.
Nonetheless, there are cases in which the sponsoring relative changes status, becoming, for example, a citizen instead of an LPR; under such circumstances, it is possible that the relative in question may move ahead more quickly in the line of applicants.
The complexities surrounding family-based immigration make it essential that those applying for such visas consult with a knowledgeable, compassionate immigration attorney like Laura Talamantes of Talamantes Immigration Law Firm, APC, who can be reached at 619.916.4570. Talamantes Immigration Law Firm is happy to help clients all throughout the Chula Vista area including those who lives in Lemon Grove, Bonita, National City, San Ysidro and Imperial Beach.