Understanding Family Petition Requirements

There are two specific types of family-based immigration Visas that have slightly different requirements. The categories include a family preference category as well as an immediate relative category. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides specific guidelines for how family petition visas are to be issued and to whom.

  • Immediate Relative Visas – There are no limits on the number of people who can apply for these types of visas. US citizens may apply for family visas for their spouse, unmarried children under 21, an orphan who was or will be adopted from abroad and a parent of any US citizen over the age of 21.
  • Family Preference Visas – These visas have an annual limit and may be requested by US citizens or in some cases, by lawful permanent residents of the United States. Each of these visa types has specific annual limits under US immigration laws. These visas may be obtained by unmarried children of citizens and their minor children (known as an F1 Visa), spouses, minor children and unmarried children over the age of 21 of legal permanent residents (known as an F2 Visa). Married children of US citizens, their spouses and children may apply for an F3 Visa which is known as "family third preference". Finally, an F4 Visa application may be made for siblings of US citizens over the age of 21 as well as their spouses and minor children. It is important to note that sponsors cannot be aunts, in-laws, grandparents or uncles.

There are special rules for family visas that apply to members of the US military that vary from the standard visa rules. There are also options to include a finance and children born out of wedlock that may apply to your individual case.

When applying for family preference visas that allow only a specific number annually, it is important to file your application even if the quota has been reached. The reason for doing this is that all immigrant visas are issued based on when the petitions were filed. In some cases, the wait may be several years, but if you are not "in line" your application will have to be placed at the end.

US residents who are interested in filing a family petition should contact Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo, LLC. We can help you with the required documents and ensure that your petition is complete before it is filed to ensure that you do not face unnecessary delays.