To promote family unification, the U.S. immigration law allows for both US citizens and Legal permanent Residents (LPRs) to petition for their foreign family members to come live in the U.S.
There are two groups of family-based immigrant visa categories provided under the provisions of U.S. immigration law, specifically the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
1) Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas (Unlimited): These visa types are based on a close family relationship with a United States (U.S.) citizen described as an Immediate Relative (IR). The number of immigrants in these categories is not limited each fiscal year. Immediate relative visa types include:
- IR-1: Spouse of a U.S. Citizen
- IR-2: Unmarried Child Under 21 Years of Age of a U.S. Citizen
- IR-3: Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. Citizen
- IR-4: Orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen
- IR-5: Parent of a U.S. Citizen who is at least 21 years old
2)Family Preference Immigrant Visas (Limited): These visa types are for specific, more distant, family relationships with a U.S. citizen and some specified relationships with a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). There are fiscal year numerical limitations on family preference immigrants, shown at the end of each category. The family preference categories are:
- Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children, if any.
- Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of LPRs. At least seventy-seven percent of all visas available for this category will go to the spouses and children; the remainder is allocated to unmarried sons and daughters.
- Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children.
- Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age.
Note: Grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and cousins cannot sponsor a relative for immigration.
To apply for an immediate relative or family preference immigrant visa, follow the steps on the Immigrant Visa Process on usvisas.state.gov.
Instructions given to you by the National Visa Center (NVC), along with the information presented on this website, for further guidance and instructions.
After you have completed the steps on the Immigrant Visa Process on usvisas.state.gov, including paying the necessary fees and submitting the required immigrant visa application form (DS-260), Affidavit of Support, and supporting documents to the National Visa Center (NVC), they will review your file for completeness. Once your case becomes qualified for an interview, NVC will work with us to schedule an interview appointment for you.
You can learn more about the interview process on usvisas.state.gov.
Please bring all required documents to your interview. Failure to do so may result in refusal of your application on the day of your interview and a delay to the processing of your application.
At the end of your immigrant visa interview, the consular officer will inform you whether your visa application is approved or denied.
Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a consular officer. Applicants are advised of this requirement when they apply. Most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the visa interview. When administrative processing is required, the timing will vary based on the individual circumstances of each case. You can check the status of your visa application on ceac.state.gov.
If your visa has been denied, you may find useful information on Ineligibilities and Waivers on usvisas.state.gov.
After the Interview
If your visa has been approved, you will be informed how and when your passport and visa will be returned to you. Carefully review After the Interview on usvisas.state.gov to learn what to do when you receive your visa, entering the United States, paying the USCIS Immigrant Fee, and other important information.