Family-based immigration to the USA | Arvian Law Firm
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Family-based immigration to the USA

Our experienced attorneys provide comprehensive family immigration services, drawing upon their deep understanding of family immigration law to assist in a wide range of cases, including petitions for spouses, children, parents, and other family members.

What is family-based immigration?

With family-based immigration, foreign nationals can legally enter the United States to reunite with relatives who already reside there.

A family immigration lawyer can help immediate family members reunite, bring a non-U.S. resident to the U.S. for marriage and even adopt a child who is outside of the U.S. Family immigration lawyers know the ins and outs of the immigration system and how to navigate the complex U.S. legal system. Currently the U.S. Immigration Laws allow only U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents who are over the age of 21 years old to serve as sponsors for immigration.

A U.S. citizen can sponsor a Parent, a Spouse, a Child who is under 21 years of age, a Child who is over 21 years of age and a sibling such as brother or sister.

A Green Card Holder or Lawful Permanent Resident is allowed to sponsor a spouse, a child who is under the age of 21 years old, and a non-married child who is over 21 years of age.

It is important to note that only close immediate family members qualify for sponsorship. Distant relatives who are not immediate family members such as Aunts, Uncles, Nephews, Nieces, etc do not qualify for family reunion under the current immigration laws of the U.S.

When you are dealing with family-based immigration, you will want to make sure that you have an experienced family immigration lawyer on your side who can help you with the process. There are a lot of different elements that need to be taken into consideration when immigrating to the United States, and a family immigration attorney will be able to help you with all of the paperwork and requirements. Our immigration law firm can also help you if problems arise during the process.

Types of family-based immigration

Immediate Relative – these visas are based on a close family relationship with a U.S. citizen, such as a spouse, a child or parent. The number of immigrants in these categories is not limited per fiscal year.

Family Preference – these visas 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 per fiscal year.

Types of family-based immigration in the USA

The United States offers a variety of ways for families to reunite through the family-based immigration system. Family-based immigration is the largest category of legal immigration to the United States. In FY 2018, nearly 84 percent of all immigrants who obtained permanent residence (a “green card”) did so through the family-based system.

There are four preference categories for immediate relatives of US citizens and certain other family members:
• Unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens, 21 years of age or older (F1);
• Spouses, widows, and minor children of deceased US citizens (F2A);
• Married sons and daughters of US citizens, 21 years of age or older (F2B); and
• Brothers and sisters of adult US citizens, including their spouses and minor children (F3).


We understand that the immigration process can be complex and confusing, we will guide you through every step. We will also work with you to ensure that you have all the necessary documentation and information to make your case as strong as possible. We aim to get you the results you need in a timely and efficient manner.

A green card in the United States can be applied for and granted to a person with a direct and blood relationship to a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States. This benefit is available to a person’s “immediate family,” which includes the spouse, minor children, parents, and siblings of the adult children.

  • A US citizen is eligible who is under 21 years old and is unmarried
  • An American citizen who adopts an orphan in another country


A parent of a legal US resident minor (those that are at least 21 years old)
For immigration reasons, everyone under the age of 21 is considered a minor. Furthermore, under immigration law, everyone beyond the age of 21 is considered an adult.

NOTE that Parents, Spouses, and Children under 21 are considered “Immediate Relatives” under U.S. immigration law and are entitled to a preference in the processing of the case. Immediate relatives are not subject to numerical limitations or caps, and they are also excused from certain minor immigration violations (eg. failure to maintain status, unauthorized employment) which allows them to adjust status and obtain their green card in the U.S., even though they may have technically violated the law.

Lawful Permanent Resident (Green Card Holder) can sponsor his or her:
1. Spouse
2. Child under 21
3. Child over 21 (who is not married)

Unlike US citizens, they are not eligible to receive family members through the family unity program. However, there is a waiting period because there is a yearly quota for green cards to be handed to family members of US permanent residents. In contrast, the paperwork for family members of US citizens can be issued at any time.

Petitioners must be either lawful permanent residents or United States citizens. Non-citizens and visa holders are not eligible to apply for the K-1 fiancé visa. After that, you’ll need to show that you intend to marry your fiance within 90 days of his arrival in the United States. You must also provide proof that any previous marriages have been legally dissolved.

To apply for K-3 spouse status, the applicant or individual must be married to a US citizen. Form I-130 must have been previously submitted by their spouse on the applicant’s behalf. Applicants under the age of 21 who are the legitimate children of K-3 applicants and who are not married will be awarded K-4 status. However, certain cases defy this rule, and a good immigration attorney can help you.

Through the assistance of immigration lawyers, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or elder abuse can self-petition for lawful permanent status under VAWA. A battered spouse can file a VAWA application, a victim of abuse under the age of 21, a parent whose kid has been harmed by their lawful permanent resident spouse, or a parent whose child is at least 21 years old and a citizen of the United States.

Before the two years are over, the couple must seek to have the requirements removed and permanent documents provided to the spouse. In the case of a married relationship, both partners must submit applications for permanent residency. It is necessary to give evidence of a good faith marriage once again with the application to have conditions removed, even if substantial evidence was already submitted at the time of the initial interview.

Divorcing families may find immigration regulations considerably more complicated than they already are. Most immigrants are fearful of getting a divorce or formal separation for fear of jeopardizing their green card status. The solution is unique to each situation. In order to improve their chances of being awarded a green card, divorced immigrants may still pursue the usual procedures. The best way to learn about your legal rights is to speak with an immigration lawyer.

In the event that an applicant for permanent resident status is denied, they may file a waiver using Form I-601. Additionally, it can be used if the immigrant is trying to obtain a benefit for which they may still need to meet eligibility requirements. A person ineligible for immigration benefits may submit a waiver request in this manner to have that ineligibility overturned. The application’s eligibility and the specific use sought will determine whether or not the application is approved.


Having a relative in common with the sponsor is often necessary for the family-based immigration process in the United States. Family-based immigration requires a close or immediate link between the sponsor and the prospective immigrant.

Immediate relatives are defined in U.S. immigration law as follows:

  • U.S. citizen spouses
  • U.S. citizens who have minor (under 21) children who are unmarried
  • Third, U.S. citizens’ parents (if their child is above 21)

Even if the person you want to sponsor isn’t a blood relative, there may be other family-based categories you can use to support them. However, they need to meet certain familial related requirements, such as being your sibling or your over-21-year-old married kid.

It is not possible to sponsor a non-family member through the United States’ family immigration process. However, there may be other avenues to immigrate to the United States, for as through employment-based or humanitarian programs.

In some situations, humanitarian sponsorship may be available. Humanitarian sponsorship of immigrants is permitted. People who fall under this group may be refugees, asylum-seekers, or victims of natural calamities. Partnership with appropriate organizations or governments is common practice in humanitarian sponsorship.

There are several legal and financial responsibilities that must be met during the sponsorship process, so it’s crucial to be prepared. For the most up-to-date information on sponsorship opportunities and eligibility criteria, it is also important to speak with an immigration attorney or authorized government officials in your country.

The U.S. immigration system permits U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to sponsor their family members for immigration, enabling them to obtain lawful permanent status. Family-based immigration follows particular standards and procedures.

Immediate Relatives: Immediate relatives have the greatest preference level and include:

  1. Spouses of U.S. citizens
  2. Unmarried children (under 21) of U.S. citizens
  3. Parents of U.S. citizens (if the citizen is at least 21 years old)

Family Preference Categories:

Other family members can be sponsored under the following categories:

  1. First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters (over 21) of U.S. citizens
  2. Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (over 21) of lawful permanent residents
  3. Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
  4. Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens (if the citizens are at least 21 years old)

Sponsorship Process:

Sponsoring a family member for immigration involves:

  1. Filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with the USCIS to establish the familial relationship
  2. USCIS approval and visa availability based on preferred category and priority date
  3. Visa application through consular processing (if outside the U.S.) or modifying status (if currently in the country) once the visa becomes available

In conclusion, family-based immigration permits U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to sponsor their family members for immigration to the United States. Immediate relatives receive preferential treatment, while other family members fall into particular preference categories. Understanding the rules and getting help from an immigration attorney or the USCIS is vital for a successful sponsorship procedure.

If you have a close familial connection with a U.S. citizen, you may have an option to apply for an immigrant visa in the immediate relative category. Immediate relatives, such as spouses, parents, step-parents, children, step-children (under 21), and the spouse of a deceased U.S. citizen, can seek immigration benefits through a petition submitted by their U.S. citizen family member with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The immediate related category contains a particular immigration classification that offers significant advantages, including unlimited visa numbers, resulting in speedier processing and shorter waiting times compared to other family-based preference categories. Immediate relatives are given precedence in the visa allocation process and have a distinctive status within the family immigration system.

To qualify for an immigrant visa as an immediate relative, you must have a special relationship with a U.S. citizen or the spouse of a deceased U.S. citizen. The acceptable relationships include:

  1. Spouses: If you are legally married to a U.S. citizen, you can apply for an immigrant visa as their spouse.
  2. Parents: U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old can petition for their foreign-born parents.
  3. Step-parents: If you are the step-child of a U.S. citizen, you may be eligible for an immigrant visa if your U.S. citizen step-parent is married to your biological parent, and the marriage occurred before your 18th birthday.
  4. Children: Unmarried children under the age of 21 of U.S. citizens can apply for an immigration visa as their child.
  5. Step-children: If you are the step-child (under 21) of a U.S. citizen, and the U.S. citizen is married to your biological parent, and the marriage took place before your 18th birthday, you may be eligible for an immigrant visa.

The Application Process:

To start the procedure, your U.S. citizen family member must file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on your behalf with the USCIS. This petition proves the relationship between you and your U.S. citizen relative. Once the petition is authorized, you can proceed with the next steps, which may require consular processing or adjustment of status, depending on your location.

To begin the procedure, it is advisable to consult with an immigration attorney or refer to the USCIS website for thorough instructions on filing the immigrant visa petition and navigating the subsequent processes to achieve lawful permanent residency in the United States.


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If you are located in the US, please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have. We look forward to helping you.