What Are Family-Based Petitions?
A foreign citizen seeking to live permanently in the United States requires an immigrant visa (IV). To be eligible to apply for an IV, a foreign citizen must be sponsored by an immediate relative who is at least 21 years of age and is either a U.S. citizen or a U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident (that is, a green-card holder).
The Immigration and Nationality Act allows citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their foreign national family members to immigrate to the United States based on their relationship. However, this act also sets a limit on the number of available family-based immigrant visas that can be issued each year.
While the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plays a significant role in determining eligibility for these visas, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) allocates these immigrant visas.
Which Family Members Can I Petition?
You may petition for certain family members, relatives (or future relatives such as a fiancé(e), or a prospective adopted child) to immigrate to the United States.
Family-based immigrants fall into one of two categories – immediate relatives or family preference immigrants.
How Can I Help a Family Member Immigrate?
Your status determines which relatives (or future relatives) may be eligible to receive immigration benefits. In order to help a family member immigrate, you must be a:
- U.S. citizen
- Green Card holder (legal permanent resident)
- Refugee admitted as a refugee within the past 2 years or asylee granted asylum within the past 2 years
If you or a member of your family is in the U.S. military, see the Military section on the USCIS website.
Family-Based Immigrant Visas
These visas are based on a close family relationship with a U.S. citizen, such as a child, spouse, or parent. The number of family-based immigrant visas in these categories is not limited.
These visas are for specific, more distant, family relationships with U.S. citizens and some specified relationships with Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR). The number of immigrant visas in these categories is limited each fiscal year.
Keep in mind that U.S. citizens can file an immigrant visa petition for their:
- Son or daughter
- Brother or sister
U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents can only file an immigrant visa petition for their:
- Unmarried children (son or daughter)
How Can an Immigration Attorney Help
Reaching out for help in family-based immigration cases can be a smart move. For example, immigration lawyers can help you gather all the necessary documents and make sure you are following all the required steps in the process.
If you have more questions, contact an immigration attorney at Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, for information or advice.