Guide to US Family Visas
There are a number of ways that you can bring family members to the U.S. to join you. There are strict eligibility criteria, and in some categories, you are limited by a quota on the number of visas issued.
Depending on the immigration status of your sponsor, and your relation to them, the process can be quite slow and it may be important to apply as early as possible.
Whether you can apply for an immigrant family visa or a nonimmigrant family visa depends on the status of your sponsor.
The family of U.S. citizens may petition on behalf of the following groups:
- K3/K4 Visa
- Fiancé Visa
If you are a refugee or asylee, you may be eligible to petition on behalf of your spouse and children
If you are a green card holder (also known as a permanent resident), you can submit a petition for the following groups:
- Unmarried children under 21
- Unmarried son or daughter of any age
We have outlined in further detail everything you need to know about U.S. Family Visas in this helpful guide.
If you are moving to the U.S. to join your loved ones, contact us for a confidential discussion about how we can assist you with our expert immigration services.
We have supported numerous clients to immigrate to the U.S. to be with their loved ones and look forward to assisting you.
Call us today to speak to our experts about family-based immigration law today on +1 844 290 6312.
Family-based green cards
U.S. citizens and U.S. lawful permanent residents (LPRs) may petition for eligible relatives to come to the U.S. on a green card.
In some cases, it may be quicker for U.S. citizens than lawful permanent residents to bring their loved ones to the United States.
Below are the types of relatives that U.S. citizens may sponsor to come to the U.S.:
|Type of relative||Immigration status||Immigration form|
|Spouse, children (unmarried, under 21), children (married and/ or over 21), parents (where the sponsor is aged over 21), siblings (where the sponsor is aged over 21)||Green card (permanent resident)||Form 1-30 (Petition for Alien Relative), Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status), Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support)|
|Fiancé (where the fiancé is living outside the U.S., Fiancé’s children (aged under 21)||Fiancé visa||Form I-129F (Petition for Alien Fiancé)|
|Spouse, children of spouse (unmarried and under age 21)||K-3 Visa/K-4 Visas||Form I-129F (Petition for Alien Fiancé), Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative)|
For existing U.S. green card holders, the following family members are permitted to apply for their own U.S. green cards:
- Spouse (husband or wife)
- Unmarried children aged under 21
- Unmarried son or daughter (any age)
The sponsor must file Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) as part of the process to prove that they are a permanent resident, and prove that they are related to the intended immigrant.
Family-based nonimmigrant visas
It is possible to apply for a nonimmigrant family-based visa if your family member intends to come to the U.S. for a temporary purpose.
There is no annual quota on these types of visa and the application process is typically faster.
The nonimmigrant family visa categories include:
- K-1 Visa (fiancé visa)
- K-2 Visa (dependent children of K-1 Visa holders)
- K-3 Visa (spouses of citizens living outside the U.S.)
- K-4 Visa (dependents of K-3 visa holders)
If issued a nonimmigrant family visa, it may be possible to extend your stay before your visa expires.
If there is a change in your relationship with your partner, you may be required to inform the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service immediately or risk breaching the terms of your visa.
You may be eligible to file for a change of status and switch to a new category of visa (e.g., a worker visa).
USA family visa immediate relative categories
The categories available under the immediate relative category include the following:
- Spouse of a U.S. citizen – IR1
- Unmarried child (aged under 21 years) of a U.S. citizen – IR2
- Orphan adopted by a U.S. citizen
- Orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by an American citizen
- Parent of a U.S. citizen (aged at least 21 years old)
If one of these categories does not apply to your situation, you may be eligible for one of the family preference categories.
USA family visa preference categories
The preference categories have been designed for individuals who have a qualifying relationship with a U.S. citizen.
These categories include:
- First preference (F1) – unmarried, adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (aged 21 years or older)
- Second preference (F2) – spouses of a lawful permanent resident, unmarried children (aged under 21 years) of a lawful permanent resident
- Third preference (F2A or F2B) – married sons and daughters (of any age) of citizens
- Fourth preference (F4) – brothers and sisters of adult citizens
If you are unsure about your eligibility for any category, it is recommended to consult with an expert in immigration law for a full assessment of your situation.
USA spouse and partner visas
There are a number of options available for spouses and partners who wish to join their loved ones in the United States. To bring your spouse to the U.S., you should ensure that you as the sponsor and your partner fulfill the eligibility criteria.
How to bring your partner to the USA
|Your status||Your spouse’s status||How to come to the U.S.|
|U.S. citizen living inside the U.S.||Living lawfully inside the U.S.||Submit Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative), and Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status)|
|U.S. citizen living outside the U.S.||Living outside the U.S.||File Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative)|
|Green card holder living inside the U.S.||Living lawfully inside the U.S.||File Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) and Form I-485|
|Green card holder living outside the U.S.||Living outside the U.S.||File Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative)|
U.S. Fiancé Visa
To bring your fiancé to the United States on a Fiancé Visa, you must be a U.S. citizen and your intended partner must fulfill the eligibility criteria.
- You and your partner are legally able to marry
- You intend to marry within 90 days of entering the United States
As the sponsor, you should file Form I-129F with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
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 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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Every year, approximately 1.1 million family visas are issued. These green cards are issued to eligible individuals and they may be able to apply for U.S. citizenship within three to five years.
Almost 50% of the green cards are issued to spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens.
In 2020, there were over 108,000 immediate relative visas issued. In the same year, there were almost 90,500 family preference visas issued.
Both of these figures marked a decrease since 2016, when there were over 315,300 immediate relative visas issued, and 215,400 family preference visas granted.
If you are a student in the United States with the appropriate visa, and you are getting married, it may be possible for your family to attend your wedding.
Your family members do not need to apply for family visas in order to attend the wedding. They can apply for a Tourist Visa to visit you on a temporary basis.
Your family members must meet the eligibility criteria for the Tourist Visa and must satisfy immigration authorities that they do not intend to stay longer than permitted on their visa.
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.