A United States family visa allows all the US citizens and permanent residents living in the US lawfully to sponsor their family members to shift to the US. There are certain categories that you can apply for visas of non-immigrant and immigrant individuals. For applicants staying outside the US, the process involves DOS (Department of States) and USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). Here is how you can apply for a family visa for immigrant and non-immigrant individuals.
Family Based Green Card for Immediate Relatives and Family Members
If you fall under the family preference category then your visa will be applied under categories F1, F2A, F2B, F3 and F4 family visa depending on your relation with the US citizen. However, if you fall under the immediate relative’s category then your visa will be applied under categories IR1/CR1, IR2, IR3, IR4 and IR5 depending on your relation with the US citizen. Nonetheless, the process will be the same for both categories.
How to Apply for Green Card for Family
Here is the process on how you can apply for a Green Card/ Family Visa for the US under the family preference or immediate relative category. It includes four steps, first you have to file a petition, then get approval, then apply for a green card and then after the visa is available, the embassy or consulate conducts a visa interview and after that you are issued a visa. The steps in detail are as follows:
Form I-130 Petition
To apply for a family immigration visa, the sponsor that is a United States citizen or permanent resident will have to first file out the Form I-130, also referred to as Petition for Alien Relative. This petition is required to show the sponsor’s wish for their family member to get permanent residence in the country. It also confirms that a family relationship exists between the sponsor and beneficiary. If this petition is approved, the beneficiary can easily apply for a green card.
After you get the approval for your petition under Form I-130, then the next step will depend on; if you are in the United States or outside the United States. If you are residing in the US then file the I-485 Form referred to as Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status. However, if you are not in the United States, then you will have to undergo consular processing to get a visa to immigrate to the US.
I-485 Green Card Application
For the immediate relative category, if you are in the United States and have got your I-130 approval then submit your I-485 to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. You can submit the petition (I-130) filed by your guarantor together with the I-485. This is concurrent filing and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will process I-130 and I-485 at the same time.
However, for the family preference category, you will have to wait for the visa availability depending on your category and then you will be eligible to submit I-485 Form. You have to check the monthly visa bulletin board for your application and once the priority date becomes current then you can submit your application for the Green Card. This process for family preference can take years or months depending on the waiting individuals in your specific category.
Processing of Consular
After I-130 is approved and you are outside the United States. You will have to visit the consulate or embassy of the US in your country of residence. Your case will be sent to the National Visa Center and once there is a visa, you can start your processing. For immigrant visa applicants, they have to submit the DS-260 form and give a consular interview. After that, if the consulate or embassy grants the visa, you can use it to travel to the US. Further processing of admittance as a lawful US permanent resident will be done after you clear the US entry requirements.
Non-immigrant Family Visa
Family based non-immigrant visa is to bring your foreign relatives to the United States. After entering the United States, they can start their permanent residency process. There are two main and two subcategories for such a visa application. There is a K1 Visa which is a fiancée visa and K3 Visa which is the best choice when getting a visa for a partner. There are K2 and K4 sub categories for K! and K3 visas respectively that allow you to bring dependent children of your fiancée or spouse with them to the US, respectively. The process is given as follows:
How to Apply for Non-immigrant Family Visa
As a United States citizen to get a K1 or K3 visa, you will have to submit a I-129F Form which is a Petition for Alien Fiancé to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. If your spouse or fiancée has children then you will have to add their names as well in the petition you are submitting. Once you submit the petition and the Form I-129F has been approved then this petition will be sent over to the National Visa Center.
Then just like the immigrant visa application process, the visa application is forwarded to the United States consulate or embassy where your spouse or fiancée is residing. Then your non-immigrant spouse or fiancée will have to undergo the consular process where they will give an interview and then according to it, they will either be granted the visa or the application will be rejected. However, the family immigration visas can be complex for certain applicants and the requirements and processes are different for all. It is recommended to get guidance from experienced immigration lawyers Birmingham to ensure a positive outcome.