Visa Options for Citizens Wishing to Bring Family Members Into the U.S.

Under U.S. immigration policy, citizens may sponsor a close relative for entry into the country. There are many reasons why it may be desirable to bring family members to America, but they all have one thing in common: success in the visa application process is critical. Any imperfection or omission can result in severe delays or even rejection.

The Basics of Getting Spouses and Unmarried Children Admitted

"IR" visas are those for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. Unlike other types of visas, there is no limitation on the number of IR visas issued annually. IR-1 visas are available to the spouse of a U.S. citizen, while IR-2 visas are for unmarried children of citizens under the age of 21 (for prospective spouses - fiancées - the process is different, and it begins by seeking a K-1 visa that allows entry into the U.S. to marry a citizen within 90 days of arrival).

The first step for any citizen wishing to sponsor an immigrant relative is filing a Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130. Form I-130 is a document that, if filed correctly, initiates the visa application.

Although you may submit an I-130 on your own, it is highly advisable that you seek qualified legal help before filing. There is a $420 filing fee and often a significant wait time just for review of the I-130, both of which could be required again as a result of a deficiency on the form.

In addition to the I-130, those seeking an IR visa must supply a mountain of documentation, typically including a passport, affidavit of support from the U.S. sponsor, an Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration, a pair of passport-style photographs, a battery of medical examination forms (these cannot be completed until after receiving vaccinations and a qualifying medical evaluation) and any number of civil documents (birth certificates, court records, marriage certificates, military records, divorce paperwork, etc.) that may or may not have to be translated depending on the country of origin.

Attempting to gather this paperwork alone can quickly turn into a fulltime occupation. Family-based immigration lawyers can help you bring everything together and file a complete application.

Other Relatives

In addition to young children and spouses of citizens, IR visas are available for orphans adopted by citizens and parents of citizens who are at least 21 years old. Family preference immigrant visas are another option for more distant relatives, such as siblings and adult children.

However, unlike IR visas, family preference visas are limited in number; as such, they also typically involve far longer wait times.

Show Your Family You Care

Being with your family members is too important to leave to chance. Contact a family-based immigration lawyer today to obtain advice and explore the legal options for bringing your family together.

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