FAMILY BASED IMMIGRATION
There are several permanent family based immigration categories as follows:
- IR or Immediate Relative -Spouses, parents and unmarried minor children of US citizens;
- F1 -Adult unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens;
- F2a -Spouses and unmarried minor children of lawful permanent residents;
- F2b -adult unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents;
- F3 -Adult married Children of US citizens; and
- F4 -Brothers and sisters of US citizens.
The permanent immigration process for family based immigration generally involves two steps:
1) Filing of an I-130 visa petition by the sponsor; and
2) An application by the beneficiary for an immigrant visa at the American consulate or embassy in the home country OR an application by the beneficiary with the appropriate USCIS office in the US for adjustment of status.
- In the Immediate Relative category, if the beneficiary is in the US and is eligible to file for adjustment of status, the I-130 visa petition and the adjustment of status application can be filed at the same time in what is known as a “concurrent filing.”
- There are visa quotas for all of these categories except the IR category. Because of the quotas, there are long waiting lists before a visa becomes available, with some categories taking longer than others.
- Filing a visa petition by itself does not give the beneficiary permission to remain or to work in the US while waiting for a visa to become available from the quota waiting list.
- In all categories except the IR category, the spouse and unmarried minor children of the sponsored immigrant are eligible to apply for derivative immigrant visas. However, once a child turns 21 for immigration purposes, the child is generally not eligible for a derivative immigrant visa even if he or she was under 21 when the visa petition was filed by the sponsoring relative.
- All of the above visa categories require that the sponsoring relative file a binding affidavit of support on form I-864, promising to support the sponsored immigrant and any accompanying family members so that they do not require public assistance or welfare. The sponsor’s income level and/or assets must meet certain minimum requirements or there must be a joint sponsor who meets the minimum requirements and who files an additional affidavit of support.