What is a Family-Based Visa and How to Get One?

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Nowadays people from all over the world aspire to live in the United States and leave their home countries. Immigrants go through a hefty process wanting to end up where you are now in the U.S., living with independence and freedom. But, immigrants can’t walk into the United States even if they have family members who live in the U.S., they’re required to go through a series of steps that can take years just to be with the ones that they love.

  • During 2012, there were 1,031,631 immigrant admissions to the United States.
  • 680,799 of these admissions were Family-sponsored immigrants.

So, who can sponsor you for immigration visa? Citizens and legal permanent residents (LPR) can sponsor their family members  for immigration visas or “green card”.

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Two groups of family based immigrant visa categories, including immediate relatives and family preference categories, are provided under the provisions of United States immigration law, specifically the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas (Unlimited): These visa types are based on a close family relationship with a United States 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

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). The number of immigrants in these categories is limited each fiscal year.

So, the first step toward an immigration visa is –  Filing a Petition. A sponsoring relative citizenship_papers_and_flag_350x250must  file a Petition for Alien Relative(Form I-130) with the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The next step would be collecting all the necessary documents (note: the list of required document you can find in our video below).

Once the NVC (National Visa Center) determines the file is complete with all the required documents, they schedule the appointment.

Note! In preparing for your interview, you will need to schedule and complete your medical examination and any required vaccinations before your visa interview. Every applicant, regardless of age, MUST undergo a medical examination, which must be performed by an authorized physician.

As this process is very stressful, time consuming and even expensive you may need legal help. If you have any questions about your eligibility for family based visa, you should consult an immigration attorney. The online legal services community Legal Bistro can help you find the qualified attorney in immigration law. Let immigration lawyers in your area compete to handle your case!

To get much more detailed information about the family-based immigrant visas, family preference visas, all the required documentation, medical examination and vaccinations required, visa interview, please watch our video:


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