Relationship Requirements for Family Visas

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What Are Family Visas?

In the United States, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents can sponsor a family member to come to and live permanently in the United States. This can be done by petitioning for and obtaining a family visa.

A family visa is a type of visa that permits certain categories of family members to apply for permanent residency in the U.S., if they are sponsored by a U.S.-based relative. Immediate relative and family preference visas are only available to these individuals after a successful petition by a U.S. citizen or green card holder. 

Before beginning the application process for an immigrant visa, you may want to speak with an immigration attorney in Texas. An attorney can advise you on the appropriate visa type, required documentation and the steps of the process.

What Are the Types of Family Visas?

There are two types of family visas available for those who are seeking to permanently live in the U.S:

  1. Immediate relative (IR) visa
  2. Family preference visa

The immediate relative immigrant visa is available to a foreign spouse, child or parent of a U.S. citizen. Other relatives, such as cousins, grandparents, or siblings, do not qualify for these visas.

A family preference visa refers to visas issued to a U.S. citizen’s siblings, married children, and unmarried children over 21 years of age. For lawful permanent residents, family preference visas are available for spouses and unmarried children.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has a limit, or yearly quota, of visas for immigrants in the family preference category. There is no annual limit on immediate relative visas.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for a family preference immigrant visa, family members who seek to live permanently in the U.S. must be sponsored by a family member. The sponsor must be at least 21 years old and either a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. The specific rules for each family preference visa is based on familial relationship.

Spousal Relationship

A U.S. citizen may bring their husband or wife to the U.S. by petitioning for a permanent resident card for their spouse.

“Spouse” refers to the legally wedded husband or wife of the sponsor. Those who live together without the benefit of marriage are not eligible for a spouse visa. Common-law partners may qualify for a spouse visa depending on the laws of the country of the common-law marriage. Lastly, for those who observe polygamous relationships, only the first spouse qualifies for this type of visa.

U.S. citizens may also bring their fiancé(e) to the U.S. to marry and live here by obtaining a nonimmigrant visa for their fiancé(e). An experienced immigration lawyer can help you through the application process and determining which visa type best suits your situation.

Parent-Child Relationship

An IR-2 visa is available for unmarried, foreign-born children that are under 21 years of age. The sponsor needs to be a U.S. citizen who has had legal custody of the child for at least two years.

The sponsor must have also have lived with the child for two years prior to the visa application. Proof of relationship, such as the child’s birth certificate or adoption decree, is required.

IR-3 visas are also available for U.S. citizens adopting a child from another country.

Sibling Relationship

The F4 visa category (family fourth preference) is for brothers or sisters of a U.S. citizen. The petitioner must be at least 21 years old to sponsor this type of visa. Birth certificates or other records can provide evidence that the petitioner and applicant are siblings.

How Do You Get a Family Visa?

For family-based visas, a U.S. citizen or green card holder must file a petition on behalf of the family member seeking a green card. Certain documents must accompany the petition to prove the relationship between the petitioner and the applicant is legitimate. This can include documentation like a marriage certificate, birth certificate, passport or other official records.

Additionally, the sponsor will need to meet income requirements and sign an Affidavit of Support indicating that the sponsor will be financially responsible for the family member(s) upon their arrival in the United States.

Can a Green Card Holder Sponsor Family Members?

A lawful permanent resident, or green card holder, may petition for certain family members to obtain permanent residence in the United States. An F2A visa allows permanent residents to sponsor the green card application of their spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age. Similarly, unmarried children, aged 21 and older, are eligible to apply for an F2B visa.

Contact an Attorney With Comprehensive Knowledge of Immigration and Texas Laws

Immigration laws can be complicated and confusing. It is important to provide the correct information and documentation the first time to avoid delay, stress and, most importantly, to ensure that your family-based petitions are granted.

The lawyers at Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law can answer your questions and provide you with support and guidance. Our lawyers have helped individuals obtain their residency and reunify with their families.

For more information on how we can assist you with your immigration needs, contact us at 972-200-2850. We have offices in Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Houston.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Sponsor My Sibling if I Am Not a US Citizen Yet?

Only U.S. citizens can sponsor their siblings to come to the United States. Thus, lawful permanent residents cannot petition for their siblings to join them in the U.S. If you are a green card holder that wishes to sponsor a sibling, you may want to speak with an immigration attorney about the naturalization process.

How Long Does the Visa Application Process Take?

The length of time for a visa application varies from person to person. A few reasons some applications take longer than usual include:

  • Failure of the applicants to follow instructions.

  • Sponsors are unable to meet the requirements of the Affidavit of Support.

  • Delayed or lengthy administrative processing.