The reunification of families still accounts for the majority of immigrant visas (green cards) issued each year under our current system. Who can and cannot apply is set forth in the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA). Family based petitions can be filed only for immediate family members: mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter, or spouse. Each preference category has its own definition and many have a waiting time that is listed in the monthly Visa Bulletin.
Some applications are considered “Immediate Relative” (IR) petitions, and there is no backlog (wait) for any IR petition, no matter the country of origin. Other Family based categories (See Below) have growing backlogs with some extending out for many years. Care must be taken when filing applications in backlogged categories, as the filing of such an application could – in some cases – prevent the beneficiary from entering/visiting the U.S. for many years until the immigrant case has been processed.
IR Immediate Relative visas (unlimited family-based visas)
- Spouses of United States Citizens
- Minor children (under age 21) of United States Citizens
- Parents of a U.S. Citizen who is at least 21 years old
- Widows and widowers of deceased U.S. citizens – applicants must have been married at least two years prior to their spouses’ deaths, must file within two years of the death, and must not have remarried at the time of application
Preference immigrant visas (limited family-based visas):
- First: Unmarried Sons and Daughters (over age 21) of U.S. Citizens
- Second: Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents
- Third: Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens
- Fourth: Brothers and Sisters of Adult (over age 21) U.S. Citizens
Our family immigration attorney and staff have helped clients across the country reunite with their family members. For more information, or to schedule a consultation with experienced immigration lawyer Roy Jack Watson, Jr., please contact our office.