Each visa category has specific eligibility requirements and application processes.
As any family immigration lawyer will tell you, bringing a loved one from a foreign country depends on a variety of factors including the country in question, eligibility, financial situation, and a bunch of paperwork, among other things. But it’s certainly not impossible and in most cases, navigating the bureaucracy surrounding family immigration to the US is pretty straightforward—Though it might take some time to finally finish the process.
In this guide, we’re going to see how you can bring loved ones together through legal channels.
Steps to Family Immigration
Bringing loved ones to the United States through legal channels involves navigating the family immigration process.
Whether it’s a CR1 spousal visa (for those married for less than two years), IR1 visa (for those married for over two years), or a K-1 marriage visa (for those who plan to marry within three months), it’s important to follow the basic guidelines set up by the government and be patient.
Generally, it can take anywhere from a couple of months to over a year.
- Determine Eligibility: First, determine if you meet the eligibility requirements to sponsor a family member for immigration. This typically includes being a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) and having a qualifying relationship with the intending immigrant, such as a spouse, parent, child, or sibling.
- File the Petition: As a sponsoring family member, you will need to file the appropriate immigration petition on behalf of your loved one. The specific form will depend on the relationship, such as Form I-130 (Immediate Relative) or Form I-129F (Fiancé/Fiancée). Provide the required documentation and pay the associated fees.
- Wait for Approval: Once the petition is filed, it will be reviewed by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). They will assess the eligibility and relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary. If approved, the case will move forward to the next stage.
- Visa Processing: If your family member is residing outside the United States, they will need to go through consular processing at a US embassy or consulate in their home country. This typically involves submitting additional documentation, attending an interview, and undergoing medical examinations. The consular officer will decide on the visa application.
- Adjustment of Status: If your family member is already in the United States legally, they may be eligible to adjust their status to become a lawful permanent resident. This typically applies to immediate relatives of US citizens. They will need to file an application for adjustment of status (Form I-485) and go through the USCIS interview process.
- Issuance and Entry: Once the visa is approved, either through consular processing or adjustment of status, your loved one can obtain their immigrant visa or green card. They can then travel to the United States and be admitted as a lawful permanent resident.
- Removal of Conditions: In some cases, such as when the beneficiary obtains a green card through marriage and the marriage is less than two years old, they may receive a conditional green card. They will need to file a joint petition to remove conditions (Form I-751) within 90 days of the green card expiration to obtain a permanent green card.
If you feel stuck, it’s taking too long, or there has been some complication, it’s highly recommended to get in touch with a Chicago family immigration attorney so that they can fast-track the whole thing and provide you with regular updates.
Types of Visas for Bringing Family
There are various kinds of visas that you can apply for depending on the eligibility requirements and preference. First of all, there are the marriage visas like K-1, IR1, and CR1 (read fiancé visa vs spouse visa for more). Then, there are visas that allow you to bring certain family members to the US. There are also provisions for lawful permanent residents (not US citizens) to bring family members over.
Given below is a list of all visas that can be used to bring your family members over to the US:
- IR1 and CR1: The IR1 (Immediate Relative) and CR1 (Conditional Resident) visas are immigrant visas available to spouses of US citizens. The IR1 visa is for spouses married for more than two years, granting unconditional permanent resident status upon entry. The CR1 visa is for spouses married for less than two years, granting conditional resident status initially, with the option to remove conditions after two years.
- K-3: The K-3 visa is a nonimmigrant visa available to spouses of US citizens who are awaiting the approval of their immigrant visa petitions. It allows the foreign spouse to enter the US as a nonimmigrant while the immigrant visa petition is being processed. Once in the U.S., the foreign spouse can apply for an adjustment of status to obtain permanent residency.
- K-1: The K-1 visa, also known as the fiancé(e) visa, is a nonimmigrant visa available to foreign nationals engaged to US citizens. It allows the foreign fiancé(e) to enter the US to get married within 90 days of arrival. After marriage, the foreign spouse can apply for an adjustment of status to obtain permanent residency.
- IR2, CR2, IR5, F1, F3, F4: These visa categories represent various family-based immigrant visas. The IR2 visa is for unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of US citizens. The CR2 visa is for unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of US citizens who are conditional residents. The IR5 visa is for parents of US citizens who are at least 21 years old. The F1 visa is for unmarried adult children (over 21 years of age) of US citizens. The F3 visa is for married children of US citizens. The F4 visa is for siblings of US citizens.
- F2A, F2B: These visa categories are specific family-based immigrant visas. The F2A visa is for spouses and unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of lawful permanent residents (Green Card holders). The F2B visa is for unmarried adult children (over 21 years of age) of lawful permanent residents.
Each visa category has specific eligibility requirements and application processes. Consulting with an immigration attorney or visiting the US Department of State’s official website can provide more detailed information and guidance on the specific requirements and procedures for each visa category.