If you are a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (“LPR,” someone with a green card), you may petition to sponsor certain relatives under one of the four family-based preference categories.
Who’s eligible for a Family Preference Visa?
Family-based preference category visas are for those who are close family relatives of the U.S. citizen or LPRs, but who do not meet the definition of an “immediate relative“, per the Immigration and Nationality Act. There are annual limits (“visa quotas”), and per-country limits, for these family-based preference categories visas. Therefore, these visas require a longer wait for their availability. For some countries, wait time can be upwards of 20 to 30 years.
There are four family-based preference visa categories, as follows:
- Family First Preference (F1) – For unmarried children of U.S. citizens who are 21 years old, and up, and their minor children, if any. A maximum of 23,400 visas may be claimed each fiscal year.
- Family Second Preference (F2) – For the immediate family members of LPRs. These include their spouses, minor children, and unmarried children 21 years and older. A maximum of 114,200 of these family preference visas may be submitted each fiscal year.
- Family Third Preference (F3) – For the married children of U.S. citizen, and their spouses and children. A maximum of 23,400 visas may be submitted each fiscal year.
- Family Fourth Preference (F4) – For the brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children. The U.S. citizen must be at least 21 years of age. A maximum of 65,000 of these family preference visas may be submitted per fiscal year.
Important note: Grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and cousins may not sponsor a relative for immigration. Unmarried children of LPRs (F2) will lose the petition if, while it is pending, they get married, since there is no family preference visa category for married children of LPRs.
How does one apply for a Family Preference Visa?
The process of obtaining a family preference visa begins with a U.S. citizen or LPR filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. This form establishes the relationship between the petitioning U.S. citizen or LPR and the relative.
Once the petition is submitted, the file is assigned a priority date. The petition may take another few months to years to approve. The relative abroad, the “beneficiary,” must wait until the priority date is “current” before he or she may apply for an Adjustment of Status, or AOS (if they are already in the U.S. lawfully), or for an immigrant visa through consular processing (if they are situated abroad). For more information about the petition process, contact our family preference visa lawyers.
Because the demand for family preference visas is so high, family members of U.S. citizens or LPRs typically have to wait between 2 and 30 years for their priority date to become “current.” Wait time depends on the birth of the intending immigrant, the fluctuations in demand for family preference visas, and the visa category.
Why is a San Jose Family Visa Lawyer needed for this process?
Family based visas are one of the easier routes to obtain a green card. However, because of the visa quotas and per-country limits, obtaining a green card through this route can be slow and frustrating. Without proper legal counsel, many applicants are unaware that changes in age and marital status of the intending immigrant may impact his/her eligibility for one of these visas.
With so many factors at play, this is the reason you need an experienced San Jose family immigration lawyer on your side who will help you and your family members navigate through this process, and provide proper counsel along the way.
We at the Law Office of Alison Yew bring years of experience and expertise in immigration law to the table. We’ve successfully handled countless family preference visa cases and guided clients every step of the way.
If you’re planning to apply for a family preference visa on behalf of a family member so they can qualify for a green card, you’re going to need the help of a highly skilled San Jose immigration lawyer to present a strong case before the USCIS. Contact the Law Office of Alison Yew today for a complimentary evaluation.
For additional information on the process, please visit our FAQ page.