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 relatives
2) Family preference
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.