US Family Visas
If you are seeking to join family members who are US citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents in the US, you could be eligible for a family-based visa category. The family-based visa categories include both immigrant and non-immigrant U.S family visas.
To be eligible for an immigrant visa your US relative must petition for you to join them. There are no limits on how many immediate relative immigrant visas are granted each year. Family preference visas however are subject to a yearly cap.
Immigrant visas are divided into two categories: “immediate relatives” of a U.S citizen and “preference” cases.
Immediate relatives include a parent, spouse, or unmarried children under 21 years of age.
Relatives that could be eligible for family preference visas include:
- Unmarried adult son or daughter of a US citizen
- Spouse of a Legal Permanent Resident
- Unmarried children of a Legal Permanent Resident
- Married children of a US citizen
An immigrant visa will allow you to become a US Lawful Permanent Resident however the visa application process often takes a long time.
Another option if you have relatives in the US is one of the non-immigrant visas which permit temporary entry to the U.S. Once in the US, you could opt for other immigration options within the country in terms of becoming a permanent resident.
US family-based non-immigrant visas
Non-immigrant visas allow the holder to visit the U.S. for specific reasons such as work, education, business or medical purposes. They are granted for a specific amount of time and a departure date is set. They allow the holder to stay in the U.S. temporarily and do not allow the holder to permanently reside in the U.S.
A family-based non-immigrant visa is usually quicker to obtain than an immigrant visa.
If you have a relative who is a US citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident, you can apply for a non-immigrant visa. Once you are in the US, you can continue your immigration journey and look at onward options.
Here are the available U.S. non-immigrant family visas:
- K1 visa – for fiancés who wish to enter the US
- K2 visa – for children of K1 visa holders
- K3 visa – for spouses residing abroad
- K4 visa – for dependents of K3 visa holders
If you wish to extend your non-immigrant visa you can apply before your visa expires. In the case of a renewal application for a dependent, this must be submitted together with your request.
If you are in possession of a non-immigrant visa if you wish, you can then apply for a different immigration path, such as a Worker visa.
US Family-based immigrant visas and Green Cards
Immigrant visas allow the holder to reside in the United States permanently and are part of the process of obtaining a Green Card. They are more difficult to obtain than non-immigrant visas. An immigrant visa must be obtained prior to traveling to the U.S., and the process for applying for this type of visa is more extensive.
You can apply for an immigrant visa if you have a family member in the U.S. who is an American citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident who can file a petition for you to join them. Depending on the relationship with you, your relative can apply for either a Green Card or a family-based immigrant visa.
A Green Card is for family members with whom you have an immediate family relationship. If you have relatives with whom you hold more distant family relationships who wish to emigrate to the U.S., they can apply for a family-based preference immigrant visa instead.
You are able to seek permanent residence in only the following categories:
- Family First Preference (F1) – for unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
- Family Second Preference (F2A) – for spouse and unmarried children of U.S. permanent residents. If you have dependents who are over 21 years of age, they can apply for a Second Preference (F2B) visa
- Family Third Preference (F3) – for married children of U.S. citizens
- Family Fourth Preference (F4) – for siblings of U.S. citizens who are over 21 years of age.
To apply for a family-based Green Card and register for permanent residence in the U.S. you need to file Form I-130 and Form I-148. Immigrant visas are not limited in terms of how many are issued annually, but family preference categories are subject to a yearly cap.
U.S. Visas for Spouses and Fiances
As a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident, you can bring your spouse or unmarried partner to join you to live in the U.S. To begin the sponsorship process, you need to file a Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative.
Your spouse can pursue two different U.S. family visas to join you in the U.S.
If, as the spouse wishing to move to the U.S., your intent is to go to the US temporarily (non-immigrant intent) you can apply for a K3 Spouse visa. What this means is that you will be able to pursue permanent residence or change your immigration status only after you enter the U.S. With a K3 Spouse visa you will be able to travel to and from the U.S. for the duration of the visa, as this is a multiple-entry visa. In the event that your marriage ends, as the visa holder you must leave the U.S. within 30 days.
If you wish to join your spouse in the U.S. permanently, then you can apply for a CR1 visa. This is a family-based immigrant visa that grants the holder conditional U.S. permanent resident status. With this immigration status, you are permitted to seek employment in the U.S. without needing a work permit. However, if you leave the U.S. you must apply for a re-entry permit to maintain your resident status.
Similarly, if you have dependent minor children they can also apply to settle in the U.S. through a children’s Green Card.
To get married in the U.S. you can apply for a K1 non-immigrant fiancé visa. To be eligible for the K1 visa, you must intend to get married within 90 days of your arrival, which is how long this visa is valid for.
US Family Children of U.S citizen
Unmarried children under 21 years of age are classed as immediate relatives, and they are eligible for a family-based Green Card. The sponsorship type will depend on their age.
Stepchildren are also classed as immediate relatives if the marriage of the parents occurred before they turned 18.
If your unmarried child is over 21 years of age, he or she can still be eligible to join you in the U.S. under the family first preference category, also known as the F2B visa. Note that in the event your child gets married prior to your F2B visa petition being accepted, they will no longer be eligible for this U.S. family visa.
Since the F2 visa category has a limit of around 114,200 visas per year with only 30% being allocated to F2B visa applicants, it is more difficult to secure a visa for a child over the age of 21.
How Can Total Law Help?
Total Law’s immigration lawyers are trained in all areas of U.S. as well as UK immigration law and are experts in family-based immigration options. U.S. family visas can be complex to understand and apply for, and we can make the process simpler for you.
Our immigration solicitors will discuss your particular circumstances with you and assess your eligibility to apply for whichever U.S. family visa best applies to you. This can include family-based Green Cards for immediate relatives, immigrant visas in a preference category, or non-immigrant visas. They will also address your immigration questions and concerns.
Once you are clear on the U.S. family visa route you wish to take, our lawyers will assist you throughout the application process. If you are pursuing a route that requires a U.S citizen to sponsor your application, they can help the sponsor to complete the petition form, ensuring all information is included correctly. Our immigration solicitors will also help you to gather all the necessary evidence to prove you can fulfil the requirements of the visa.
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There are no limits on how many immediate relative immigrant visas are granted each year.
U.S. family preference visas however are subject to a fiscal year numeral limitation, ie a yearly cap.
U.S. family visas are usually issued in chronological order, which means that you may need to wait several months or even years before your application is processed.
The visa bulletin, released every year, provides an overview of the availability of U.S. family visas.
In order to be calssed as a “dependant”, your child or children must be under 21 years of age, be unmarried, and not be living an independent life.
30 days after they turn 21 years of age or once they get married, their visa status will automatically.
Yes, the F2B visa allows applications from unmarried sons and daughters of U.S citizens who are over 21 years of age. The F2B visa is a Green Card that falls into the family-based preference category.
You must be a Green Card holder and be living permanently in the U.S. You will need to sponsor your unmarried adult child via a visa petition being filed with the USCIS.
Upon acceptance of the petition, your child can begin the visa application process in their home country via the U.S. embassy or consulate.
The US family visas include immigrant visas that permit residency in the U.S. and non-immigrant or temporary family visas that grant you entry to the U.S, for a limited amount of time.
The U.S family visas include:
K2 Visa – Child Dependent of a Fiance
K3 Spouse Visa
K4 Visa – Child Dependent of a Spouse
Family-Based Green Card
F2A Visa for Spouse and Children of US Green Card Holders
F2B Visa for Unmarried Adult Children
F3 Visa for Married Children of US Citizens
F4 Visa for Siblings of US Citizens
Green Card for immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen
IR1/CR1 Visa – Marriage Green Card
IR2 Visa – Children Green Card
I55 Visa – Green Card for Parents
Each U.S. family visa has different requirements, but to be eligible you must have a relative who is either a U.S citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident.
To find out more about how to obtain a family visa USA from the UK get in touch with a Total Law immigration lawyer and we’ll assess your eligibility.