Family based immigration:

The U.S. has provisions for certain visa holders to bring their dependents (spouses and children) on accompanying visas. These dependent visas do not allow for the same privileges or status as the primary visa holder. Family-Based Immigration ranges from bringing in immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (spouse and minor, unmarried children and parents) to "preference" relatives in several categories (unmarried sons and daughters of green card holders and U.S. citizens, married sons and daughters of citizens, and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens).

Family based non-immigrant visas:

K-1 Visa:

The K-1 visa is available to fiancés and fiancées of U.S. citizens. Before K-1 visa is stamped at an appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad, the applicant must have approved I-129F by USCIS.

The key feature of K-1 visa:

  • The K-1 visa holder must marry the petitioning U.S. citizen fiancé(e) within 90 days of entry into the U.S. in K-1 status.
  • K-1 visa holders can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) that would allow them to work legally in the US.
  • Children of a K-1 applicant may enter the U.S. with a K-2 visa as long as the child is under 21 years of age.

K-3 visa:

The K-3 visa is available to spouses of U.S. citizens to enter the United States to adjust their status and acquire green card. To be eligible to enter into the USA with K-3 visa, the U.S. citizen spouse must file first an I-130 immigrant visa petition on behalf of his or her spouse, upon getting receipt, then file the I-129F petition on behalf of the alien spouse. Upon I-129F being approved by USCIS, the alien spouse is eligible to apply for the K-3 visa through the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country in which the marriage took place:

The key feature of K-3 visa:

  • The K-3 visa allows the alien spouse to make multiple-entries into the U.S. with initially being valid for two years, during which time the visa holder must either apply for permanent residence or apply to extend the K-3 visa.
  • Before applying K-3 visa through consulate or Embassy, if I-130 petition has been approved, the alien spouse cannot enter into U.S. with K-3 visa, instead, alien spouse must enter into USA through immigrant visa.
  • A K-3 nonimmigrant is eligible to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to legally work in USA.
  • Children of a K-3 applicant may enter the U.S. with a K-4 visa as long as the child is under 21 years of age and was under the age of 18 at the time the K-3 parent and the U.S. citizen were married.

Family-Based Permanent Residence Process

Immediate relatives:

Immediate relative includes spouses of U.S. citizens, minor unmarried children (under 21 years old, including certain adopted children and orphans) of U.S. citizens, and parents of U.S. citizens who are over 21 years old, as well as spouses of deceased U.S. citizens who were married for at least two years at the time of the spouse's death and were not legally separated, provided that the foreign national spouse has not remarried and files an immediate relative petition within two years of the death of the U.S. citizen spouse.

First Preference:

Includes unmarried sons or daughters (over 21 years old) of U.S. citizens

Second Preference:

Includes the following two-sub categories:

  • 2A - Spouses and children of lawful permanent residents, including those who are victims of domestic violence.
  • 2B - Unmarried sons or daughters (over 21 years old) of lawful permanent residents.

Third Preference:

Includes married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.

Fourth Preference:

Includes bothers and sisters of U.S. citizens 21 years of age or over.