What is Family Based Immigration?
As defined by federal law, family immigration is the process in which a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident petitions for the immigration of immediate family members. Petitioning an immediate family member means that the citizen or permanent resident requests for an immediate family member to immigrate to the U.S. And in doing so, the citizen or permanent resident assumes financial responsibility for the immediate family member. Relations who are considered as an immediate family member include spouses, children, adopted children, parents, and siblings.
Who is Eligible for Family Immigration?
A U.S. citizen has more freedom to petition family members than a legal permanent resident.
A U.S. citizen can petition for an immediate relative or family preference on behalf of:
- A spouse or fiancé
- Parents (if you are at least 21 years old)
- Unmarried child of any age, and their children
- Married child of any age, and their children
- A sibling, their spouse, and children (if you are at least 21 years old)
A U.S. permanent resident, you may petition on behalf of:
- Your spouse
- Your child under 21
- Your unmarried child over 21
How Many Visas are Available?
There is no annual visa cap for the category of immediate family immigration. This means there is no visa cap set by the U.S. for the family immigration of parents, children, and spouses. However, Congress did set an annual cap for family preference visas, which will affect the immigration of siblings. Congress set the cap for family preference visas to not exceed 480,000 individuals per fiscal year.
What are the Requirements for Family Immigration?
There are only three main requirements when looking to petition a family member. The first requirement is that the petitioner must be a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident. The second is that the petitioner must be able to demonstrate that they can financially support their relative. The final requirement is that the petitioner must be able to prove their relationship to the family member they wish to immigrate.
What is the Process for Family Immigration?
The first step is to file a petition for your relative. After the petition is approved, the visa will go into processing. In order to process the visa, USCIS will request that you submit documentation proving the following: that you are eligible to petition this person, that this person is related to you and that you are able to financially support your relative. After all requested documentation is submitted you will be scheduled for an in-person interview.
In the interview, a USCIS official will review all the documentation, and inquire after the intentions of both parties. After the interview is successfully completed, the family member can live as a legal permanent resident in the United States.
After roughly 4-5 years the legal permanent resident will be able to petition to become a U.S. citizen. After they become a citizen, they will also gain the privilege of being able to petition family members to move to the United States.