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Family-Based Immigration (IR/F - visa)

Family-Based Immigration (IR/F - visa)

Family-based immigration is an immigrant visa classification. It allows a foreign national to become a lawful permanent resident through a relative who is a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States.

All the immigrants who may be granted the right of Permanent Residence through their family relationship may be roughly divided into two large classes: immediate relatives of US citizens and relatives of US citizens and permanent residents whose immigrant visas number are subject to numerical limitation.

The category of immediate relatives includes parents, spouses, and minor children (younger than 21 years) of US citizens. Their immigrant visas numbers become available just after petitions of their US sponsors are approved. Once the applicant has his/her immigrant visa number, he/she will complete the processing in one of the US embassies or consulates in a foreign country where he/she lives. In case the applicant is already present in America, he/she may apply for adjustment of status to obtain a Green Card.

There are two non-immigrant visa categories that allow fiancé (K-1 visa) and spouses (K-3 visa) of US citizen to come to the United States before their Green Card application has been approved.

The K-1 visa, otherwise known as a fiancé visa, allows the fiancé of a US citizen to enter the US as a nonimmigrant in order to get married. To be eligible for a K-1 visa, the couple must have met in person within the past two years, their relationship must be genuine, and they must have a real desire to be married in the US within 90 days of the fiancé's arrival in the US. From the time that the K-1 petition is filed, it can take between 4-8 months for the fiancé to receive the visa at the US embassy abroad. After the wedding takes place, from the time that the application for Permanent Residence is filed, it can take between 4-9 months for the applicant to receive his/her Green Card. Minor children of the applicant are entitled to K-2 visas.

The K-3 visa is a visa for alien spouses of American citizens. The main purpose of this category visa is to reunite the families. This is a temporary visa, which allows the visitor (spouse) to remain in the USA for a period of two years instead of waiting abroad for the approval of immigrant visa. This visa provides the individual with multiple re-entry privileges and can be extended in intervals of 2 years. Minor children of the applicant are entitled to K-4 visas.

To be eligible for a spouse visa you must be married to an American citizen; and you must be able to provide evidence your marriage is valid and lasting, such as your marriage certificate; documents regarding joint obligations for housing and living expense, joint management of finances, and evidence you are in a loving relationship.

The relatives in the remaining categories must wait for a visa number to become available according to the following preference system:

First preference:
Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Citizens. Every year 23400 immigrant visas are available for this class. Currently the immigrants in this class must wait about 4 years until their immigrant visa number becomes available.
Second preference:
Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents. Every year 114200 immigrant visas are available for this class. Spouses and children are entitled to 77 of the overall second preference limitation; currently the immigrants in this class must wait a couple of months until their immigrant visa number becomes available. Unmarried sons and daughters (21 years of age or older) are entitled to 23 of the overall second preference limitation; currently the immigrants in this class must wait about 5 years until their immigrant visa number becomes available.
Third preference:
Married Sons and Daughters of Citizens. Every year 23400 immigrant visas are available for this class. Currently the immigrants in this class must wait about 8 years until their immigrant visa number becomes available.
Fourth preference:
Brothers and Sisters of Adult Citizens. Every year 65000 immigrant visas are available for this class. Currently the immigrants in this class must wait about 8 years until their immigrant visa number becomes available.