Empowering Families: The In-Depth Guide to US Family-Based Immigration

What is the Immediate Relative Category?

The term “Immediate Relative Category” is often used in the context of immigration and visa categories. In the United States, for example, the Immediate Relative Category refers to a specific group of family-sponsored immigrants who are considered close relatives of U.S. citizens. Immediate relatives have a higher priority for immigration and are not subject to numerical limitations imposed on other family-sponsored categories.

Immediate relatives include the following relationships:

  • Spouses of U.S. citizens
  • Unmarried children (under 21 years old) of U.S. citizens
  • Orphans adopted abroad by U.S. citizens
  • Orphans to be adopted in the U.S. by U.S. citizens

Because there is no numerical limit on the number of visas available for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, the processing time for their immigration applications is generally faster compared to other family-sponsored categories with numerical quotas.

What is the Family Preference Category?

The Family Preference Category is a term used in the context of U.S. immigration to refer to certain family-sponsored immigrant visa categories that allow U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (green card holders) to sponsor certain family members for immigration. Unlike the Immediate Relative Category, which includes close relatives of U.S. citizens and has no numerical limitations, the Family Preference Category has annual numerical limits set by the U.S. government.

The Family Preference Categories are divided into four preference levels, each with its own quota. These categories include:

  • F1 Category: Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens
  • F2A Category: Spouses and Children (unmarried and under 21 years old) of Permanent Residents
  • F2B Category: Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age and older) of Permanent Residents
  • F3 Category: Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens
  • F4 Category: Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens

Because there are numerical limits for each preference category, there is often a waiting period for available visa numbers, and applicants may experience delays in the immigration process.

It’s important to check the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Bulletin regularly, as it provides information on visa availability and priority dates for the various family-sponsored preference categories. The priority date is the filing date of the immigrant petition, and individuals must wait until their priority date becomes current before they can proceed with the next steps in the immigration process.

How to sponsor a relative for permanent residency?

Sponsoring a relative for permanent residency in the United States involves a multi-step process. The specific steps and requirements may vary depending on your relationship with the relative and your own immigration status. Here is a general overview of the process:

  • Determine Your Eligibility:
    • You must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) to sponsor a relative. The specific eligibility criteria vary based on the relationship with the relative.
  • File a Petition (Form I-130):
    • As the sponsoring family member, you need to file a Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form establishes the qualifying relationship between you and your relative. Include all required supporting documents and the appropriate filing fee.
  • Wait for USCIS Approval:
    • Once USCIS receives the petition, they will review it. If additional documentation is needed, they may request it. If the petition is approved, USCIS will send you a notice.
  • Wait for Visa Availability:
    • For Family Preference Categories (F1, F2, F3, F4), there may be a waiting period until a visa number becomes available. Check the Visa Bulletin regularly to see when the priority date becomes current.
  • File the Immigrant Visa Petition (IVP):
    • If your relative is outside the U.S., USCIS will transfer the approved petition to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will notify you when the visa is about to become available, and you can then file the Immigrant Visa Petition (IVP) with the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your relative’s home country.
  • Wait for Visa Processing:
    • After filing the IVP, your relative will go through visa processing, which includes a medical examination and an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
  • Receive the Immigrant Visa:
    • If the visa is approved, your relative will receive an immigrant visa on their passport.
  • Enter the U.S.:
    • Your relative can travel to the U.S. with the immigrant visa.
  • Receive the Green Card:
    • After entering the U.S., your relative will receive their Permanent Resident Card (green card) by mail.

Leave a Reply