A US family visa helps reunite families, whether immigrants or nonimmigrants. US citizens or those with lawful residency in the United States can bring their family members to the United States on the family-based immigration visas. Individuals waiting to receive their immigrant visa can use US nonimmigrant family visas to join their family members in the United States as soon as possible.
In the following, we will explain the US family visa types, the application process of US family visa, fees, processing time, and waiting time in detail.
US Family Non-Immigrant Visa
The types of non-immigrant US family visas include:
- V visa: If you have a Green Card and your family members have applied for an immigrant visa, they can use this visa to join you. The process for applying for this visa depends on whether your family members are in the United States.
- K1 visa: Holders of K1 visa can marry their fiancé, a US citizen, within 90 days of arriving in the United States. This permission is also known as a fiance visa. You must submit your marriage certificate and documents related to your ceremony to the Department of Homeland Security before you can initiate the process of applying for permanent residence. The US citizen must first file a petition to the USCIS via Form I-129F. If USCIS approves the petition, the case will be transferred to the National Visa Center. The applicant can then apply for a K1 visa.
- K2 visa: Children of a K1 visa holder can go to the US with their parents under this visa provided that he/she is unmarried and under 21 years of age. After the marriage between a US citizen and a K1 visa holder, K2 visa holders can also apply for permanent residency. Holders of this visa can study in the United States or apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
- K3 visa: The visa is for the foreign spouse of a US citizen. K3 visa holders can live in the United States to process their immigration petitions.
- K4 visa: This visa is a non-immigrant visa issued to the children of K3 visa holders. Also, the validity of this visa is up to two years, or a person reaches 21 years old, whichever is shorter.
The application process of US Family Non-Immigrant Visa
The process for applying for a US Family Nonimmigrant Visa is slightly different from other nonimmigrant visas. If you need to apply for any of these visas, you first need to file a petition. The petitioner is a US citizen who submits a form to the USCIS. If USCIS approves the petition, the visa applicant can go through the visa application process in their home country.
US Family Immigrant Visa
Family-based immigrant visas fall into two general categories: Family preference and Immediate Relative visas. The application process for these visas is similar. First, a family member living in the United States must file a petition as a sponsor. The USCIS will first review the petition and, if approved, you can initiate the visa application process in your home country.
Family preference visas have an annual cap. This means that a limited number of these visas are issued per year. Therefore, the processing time of these visas is long, and in some cases, applicants have to wait for years to receive their visas. But Immediate Relative visas do not have a long waiting time.
Family preference visas
- F1 visa: This visa is for unmarried children of US citizens and their minor children, provided that they are younger than 21. 23,400 F1 visas are issued annually.
- F2A visa: This visa is issued for spouses and minor children of Lawful Permanent Residents. 79,940 people can obtain this visa per year. Note that children younger than the age of 21 are eligible for this visa.
- F2B visa: Adult children over 21 years old of Lawful Permanent Residents can apply for the F2B visa. 34,260 people get this visa each year.
- F3 visa: Married sons and daughters of US citizens and their families can petition for this visa. 23,400 F3 visas are issued annually to eligible individuals.
- F4 visa: Brothers and sisters of US citizens and their families can use this visa. The only thing about this visa is that the US citizen must be at least 21 years old to be able to petition as a sponsor.
Immediate Relative visas
- IR1 visa: This visa, known as the Green Marriage Card, is issued to the spouses of US citizens. To be qualified for this permission, you need to provide your legal marriage certificate. It must also be at least two years since your marriage.
- IR2 visa: Unmarried children who are younger than 21 of a US citizen can apply for this visa. Documents such as birth certificates and adaptation documents are required to obtain this visa. A US citizen must also be able to support his or her child financially in the United States.
- IR3 visa: If US citizens intend to adopt a child outside the United States, they can bring him/her to the United States under this visa. Just note that the child must be qualified for custody under the US Immigration and Nationality Act. The visa application process also depends on the country in which you are done the adaption process.
- IR4 visa: Children adopted in the US by a US citizen can apply for this visa. The requirements of this permission are similar to the previous one. In this case, the US citizen must provide a birth certificate or adoption documents. A US citizen must also intend to live in the United States with their child.
- IR5 visa: Parents of US citizens can apply for this visa provided the US citizen is at least 21 years old. Applicants for this visa must provide a valid birth certificate to prove their relationship with the US citizen. Besides, the US citizen must be able to financially support his/her parents until they can find a job.
The application process for US Family Immigrant Visa
The application process for Immediate Relative and Family Preference visas is very similar. But the IR3 and IR4 visas have a slightly more complicated process because the application process must be done inside or outside the United States before applying for a visa. The steps for applying for a US Family Immigrant Visa are as follows:
File a petition
The US citizen must first complete Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relatives, and submit it to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service or USCIS. The organization then reviews the petition and, if approved, refers the case to the National Visa Center.
Complete Form DS-260
You can complete the DS-260 form as an applicant if the USCIS issues the necessary approvals.
Perform medical examinations and vaccinations
People who want to reside the United States must have some medical check-ups with a licensed physician.
Prepare and submit the supporting documents
US Family Immigrant Visa applicants must provide the following documents:
- Passport: The passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of arrival in the United States.
- Form I-864, Affidavit of Support to be signed by a US citizen
- Documents related to medical examinations
- Applicant photo
- Marriage certificate, birth certificate, and adoption documents
- Criminal records
- People who are already married must provide documents such as a divorce certificate and death certificate that show the previous marriage status has ended.
- If the applicant has military records, he/she can also provide the relevant documents.
Participate in the visa interview
If the documents you have submitted to NVC are complete, the organization will schedule an interview at the embassy. On the interview day, the consular officer will ask questions about the purpose of your trip to the United States. Based on the answers you give, the consular officer decides whether you will be granted a visa.
Travel to the US
If the embassy approves your visa application, you will receive the NVC package that you should not open under any circumstances. When you arrive in the United States, immigration officers open the package and decide whether you can enter the United States.
Let’s sum up …
In the previous sections, we reviewed the types of US family visas, requirements, the application process, processing time, and other details. You can find out more about other US visas as well as immigration to other countries on the Visa Library website.
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