US Family Visas

The Immigration and Nationality Acts enables foreign citizens to move to the United States based on a familial relationship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. If you have a family member residing as a citizen or legal permanent resident in the United States, you can join them from Canada through a U.S. family visa.

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    U.S. Family-Based Immigrant Visas

    U.S. family visas for Canadian citizens can be classified into two broad groups – immigrant and non-immigrant U.S. family visas.

    A family-based immigrant visa allows you to live permanently in the U.S. and is part of the process of acquiring a Green Card. Once you obtain this type of visa and relocate to the U.S. from Canada, you will become a legal permanent resident.

    You must obtain an immigrant visa before you travel to the U.S. To be eligible to apply for U.S. family visas, you will need to be sponsored by your immediate relative who is at least 21 years old and is either a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident (a green-card holder).

    In addition, you will also need to file Form I-130 and Form I-148. There are two categories of immigrant U.S. family visas – Immediate Relative visas and Family Preference visas.

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    Immediate Relative Visas

    You apply for an Immediate Relative visa if you seek to join close family members living permanently in the United States.  Immediate relatives are classified as a spouse, parent, or unmarried children below 21 years of age. The number of visas granted by the U.S. government in this category is unlimited each fiscal year. Below are the different types of Immediate Relative visas:

    • IR-1 or CR-1 Visa. This visa is granted to the spouse of a citizen of the United States. A spouse refers to a legally married husband or wife. Living together doesn’t qualify as marriage. Common-law spouses can also qualify for immigration purposes. This visa grants conditional permanent resident status in the United States if the spouse has been married for less than 2 years. On this visa, you can seek employment without needing a work permit.
    • IR-2 Visa. This visa is granted to unmarried children below 21 years of age of U.S. citizens. Stepchildren are also considered immediate relatives if the parents got married before the child turned 18.
    • IR-3 Visa. This visa is granted to children who were adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen within the last 2 years.
    • IR-4 Visa. This visa is granted to foreign national children who were brought to the United States where they will finish the international adoption process.
    • I.R. -5 visa. This visa is granted to the foreign national parent(s) of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old.

    Family Preference Visas

    Family Preference visas are granted to Canadian citizens with more distant, specific, familial relationships with U.S. citizens or who have certain specified relationships with any lawful permanent residents. Unlike the Immediate Relative immigrant visas, there is a specific number of Family Preference visas that the U.S. government grants each fiscal year. Below are the different types of Family Preference visas:

    • F1 Visa (First Family Preference). This visa is granted to unmarried children of U.S. citizens and their children below the age of 21 years, This type of visa has a yearly cap of 23,400 F1 visas granted.
    • F2A Visa (Second Family Preference). This visa is granted to the spouses and children (below the age of 21 years) of U.S. citizens. This visa category has a yearly cap of approximately 114,000 visas granted.
    • F2B Visa (Second Family Preference). This visa is granted to unmarried children (above the age of 21 years) of U.S. legal permanent residents. Around 30% of Family Second Preference visas are allocated to this visa category, making it more difficult to secure.
    • F3 Visa (Third Family Preference). This visa is granted to married children of U.S. citizens, their spouses, and their children who are below the age of 21 years old. This category of visa has an annual cap of 23,400 F3 visas granted.
    • F4 Visa (Fourth Family Preference). This visa is granted to the siblings of U.S. citizens who are above the age of 21 years old, their spouses, and children(minor). This category of visas has a yearly cap of 65,000 F4 visas granted.

    Note that it is more difficult to acquire a family-based immigrant visa compared to a non-immigrant visa. The application process is extensive, and it takes longer to be granted an immigrant visa.

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      U.S. Family-Based Non-Immigrant Visas

      Canadian citizens with relatives in the United States have the option to enter the U.S. through family-based non-immigrant visas temporarily. Holders of non-immigrant visas can visit the U.S. for specific purposes such as education, employment, business, or medical purposes. This is a viable path into the United States if you are a Canadian citizen who is seeking a faster relocation process.

      If you hold a non-immigrant visa, you are not allowed to reside permanently in the United States. These types of visas are granted for a specific duration with a pre-set departure/expiry date. However, you can pursue other immigrant options once you are in the United States. Below are the different types of non-immigrant U.S. family visas for Canadian citizens:


      • K1 Visa (Fiance Visa). If you are engaged to a U.S. citizen, you are eligible for the K1 visa. The K1 visa is granted for a period of 90 days. You are expected to get married to your fiance in the U.S. during this period of time after which you may then start filing your petition for a CR1 spouse visa.
      •  K2 Visa (Children of K1 Visa Holders). This type of U.S. family visa is granted to the unmarried children of a K1 visa holder. The unmarried children must be below the age of 21 years old.
      • K3 Visa (Spouse of a Green Card Holder). This visa category was created to reduce the amount of time a married couple spends apart from each other as one partner waits for the approval of their alien relative petition. The K3 visa enables the Canadian spouse to live in the United States as the petition is being processed.
      • K4 Visa (Children of K3 Visa Holders). The U.S. government grants this type of visa to the unmarried sons and daughters of K3 visa holders. The sons and daughters must be below the age of 21 years old.

      As a K3 visa holder, you can change your immigration status or pursue permanent residency once you are in the U.S. You can travel to and from the U.S. during the active duration of the visa. In case the marriage ends, you will have to leave the U.S. within 30 days.


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        How can Total Law help?

        As experts in family-based immigration, our immigration lawyers are able to assist you with all aspects of your journey. Whether you are looking to immigrate to the U.S. to join your partner or family member, we are happy to assist with your application.

        Some of the assistance we provide includes the following:

        • Assess your eligibility for your chosen visa category
        • Identify which route may be best for your situation (family-based immigrant visas, immediate relatives, or preference categories)
        • Assist with the preparation and submission of your supporting documents
        •  Engage with you and your US-based sponsor (citizen or lawful permanent resident)
        • Complete your application form to the highest standard
        • Liaise with USCIS on your behalf while your application is pending
        • Keep you notified of any key dates or deadlines during your application
        • Answer all your questions in detail to ensure you are given the most accurate information and keep up to date with the progress of your application

        We work tirelessly on your behalf to help you achieve your desired outcome, and we act faithfully to ensure that you have the most accurate legal information to make a decision about your future, and the future of your loved ones. Contact us today at +1 844 290 6312 for an immediate discussion about the immigration law services we can provide and the support we can offer to you and your family.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  1.1 million family visas are issued every year. Almost 50% of the green cards are issued to spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens.

                  Yes, a green card holder (or a lawful permanent resident) is permitted to sponsor certain family members to come to the United States.

                  They may petition for their spouse (husband or wife), unmarried children aged under 21, or unmarried son or daughter of any age.