US Immediate Relative Visa
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Who is eligible for an immigrant visa to the US on the basis of family ties?
Spouses and unmarried children of US citizens and permanent residents are eligible for immigrant visas. In addition, married children, and in certain circumstances, siblings and parents of US citizens may also be eligible for immigrant visas.
How can family members of US citizens apply to immigrate to the United States?
The US citizen family member must file a petition on behalf of the intended immigrant with the USCIS. After the petition is approved the USCIS will send the petition to the National Visa Center for processing. (In the event that the visa category is subject to numerical limitations, the petition will remain at the Visa Center until an immigrant number becomes available.) When the petition is processed, it will be forwarded to the Consulate in the country in which the intended immigrant has residence and the intended immigrant will be invited to apply for a visa.
How long is the processing time for a family based immigrant visa?
There is a numerical limitation on the annual number of immigrant visas issued for certain categories of relatives. Adult children and siblings of US citizens have to wait (sometimes several years) for an immigrant visa number to become available before the USCIS will process their petition.
Immediate relatives, that is spouses; unmarried, minor children and parents of US citizens are not subject to an immigration quota. While they don't have to wait for an immigration number to become available, before immigrating to the US an immigration petition and visa application must be processed. Consular and USCIS processing may take from several months to over a year. Fiancees and spouses of US citizens, and their dependents, may come to the US as non-immigrants and later adjust status to become permanent residents.
Will my relative's family also be able to immigrate to the US?
In most cases, the spouse and children of eligible immediate family visa applicants are eligible for dependent visas.
Where is the immigrant visa processed?
The initial petition which establishes the US citizen petitioner's qualification to bring a relative to the US is processed at the branch of the USCIS with jurisdiction over the petitioner's residence. The more lengthy and involved consular visa application occurs at the US Embassy with jurisdiction over the visa applicant's residence.
Read more: K-1 Fiancee Visa FAQ; K-3 Marriage Visa FAQ; Adjustment of Status FAQ