Family based immigrant visa categories are split into two categories under the provisions of United States immigration law. These categories are immediate relatives and family preference categories. An experienced Dorchester immigration attorney should advise you on which category is the appropriate one to apply for. Immediate relative immigrant visas are not limited to a certain quantity and are based upon close familial relationships with U.S. citizens who are immediate relatives. Immediate relative visa options include:
- IR-1: for the spouse of a U.S. citizen
- IR-2: for unmarried children of a U.S. citizen who are under 21 years of age
- IR-3: for orphans adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen
- IR-4: for orphans who are to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen
- IR-5: for the parents of a U.S. citizen who is 21 or older
Family preference visas, on the other hand, are limited to a certain quantity each year. These visas are for more distant relatives of U.S. citizens and for some of the relatives of a lawful permanent resident. The family preference visa categories are:
- F1: Family first preference: includes unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their minor children.
- F2: Family second preference: includes spouses, minor children, and unmarried adult children of lawful permanent residents, of age 21 and older. Seventy-seven percent of all F1 visas must go to the spouses and children. Only the remainder is allocated to unmarried adult children.
- F3: Family third preference: includes married adult children of U.S. citizens, their spouses, and their minor children.
- F4: Family fourth preference: includes siblings of U.S. citizens over the age of 21, their spouses, and their minor children.
Distant relatives such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are not permitted to sponsor a relative for immigration into the United States. It is always incredibly important to work closely with a reputable immigration attorney in Dorchester, MA.
Limitations On Visas
If the number of qualified applicants for a certain visa category exceeds the number of available immigrant visas, there will be a waiting period. In this very common situation, the available immigrant visas will eventually be issued in the chronological order in which their petitions were filed, using their priority dates. A visa cannot be issued until the priority date has been reached. In some categories, there can be a waiting period of several years before this priority date will be reached. Checking the visa bulletin or consulting with your trusted immigration attorney in Dorchester, MA is the most reliable way to find out the latest priority dates.
Immigrant Visas For Returning Residents
A lawful permanent resident who has stayed outside of the U.S. for longer than twelve months is required to obtain a new immigrant visa in order to re-enter the United States and resume their permanent resident status. There is, however, a provision under the law allowing the issuance of a special immigrant visa to a returning resident who stayed outside of the United States due to circumstances outside their control. If you are concerned about international travel and your returning resident immigrant visa, it is best to review your situation with your Dorchester, MA immigration attorney.