Family-Based Immigration in the United States

  • By: Serving Immigrants
  • Published: April 15, 2021
Family-Based Immigration in the United States

Under United States immigration law, a limited number of family-based immigrant visas are awarded to foreign nationals every year. Family immigration is the primary basis for immigration to the United States. It accounts for approximately 65% of legal immigration.


Eligibility for a Family Visa

There are two groups who are eligible for family visas:

  • Immediate Relatives—includes 1) spouses of U.S. citizens; 2) children of U.S. citizens who are under the age of 21; 3) orphans adopted abroad; 4) orphans to be adopted in the U.S. by U.S. citizens, and 4) parents of U.S. citizens who are over 21.
  • Family Preference Categories—includes 1) unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their children; 2) spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters over 21 of Legal Permanent Residents; 3) married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their spouses and minor children; 4) brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens and their spouses and minor children.

U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents cannot sponsor other relatives such as grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. There is an unlimited number of visas for immediate relatives. There is a yearly cap on the number of visas available for family preference categories.


Requirements for Family Visas

The sponsoring relative must be over the age of 21. The sponsor must file a petition on behalf of their family member with USCIS. In the petition, the sponsor must establish the legitimacy of their relationship to the family member and that they meet the required income qualifications. The sponsor must also submit an affidavit indicating that they will be financially responsible for the applicant. There is an extensive background and security check done on each prospective immigrant. A medical examination is also required. Immediate relatives generally receive their visas pretty soon after the process is complete. However, for those in the family preference categories, it may be years before they are given entry.


Contact an Experienced Immigration Attorney 

If you are considering family-based immigration, you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney. At Serving Immigrants, we have the know-how to ensure your success. Contact us online or call us at 305-924-1133 to schedule a consultation.

Magdalena Cuprys, Esq.

As an immigrant and a refugee herself, attorney Magdalena Cuprys understands how
important, terrifying, and exciting immigrating to America can be. She understands
how important it is to have one’s legal status in order to achieve the American dream.

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