U.S. Family Visas Explained
According to United States immigration laws, U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (green card holders) can sponsor certain family members to immigrate to the United States as permanent residents. For U.S. citizens, those family members are parents, siblings, spouses and children. For Lawful Permanent Residents they are spouses and children. There are two types of family visas.
- I-130: Petition for Alien Relative
If you wish to sponsor family members (as either a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident), you must first file a Petition for Alien Relative with your local office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Family members of Lawful Permanent Residents
These individuals usually cannot enter the U.S. for a long time—months or years—after you, as the green card holder, has already established your life in this country. Be prepared that you may have become a United States citizen by the time your family member can complete his or her green card process. We will evaluate your situation and advise you on the best strategy for your family member throughout the immigration process.
Family members of U.S. citizens
These individuals will have a shorter wait, as the federal government gives preference to relatives of United States citizens. If you are a U.S. citizen sponsoring a spouse, your unmarried children under age 21, and your parents (over the age of 21) , the visas are available without waiting. Note that to bring a spouse to the U.S. (and sign the required affidavit of support), you must be at least 18 years old and reside in the U.S. After USCIS approves the first petition, additional documentation must be sent to the National Visa Center. Applicants must complete a medical examination, receive vaccinations, and be interviewed.
- K Visas for Temporary Nonimmigrant Status
As a United States citizen, you can also petition for certain individuals to receive a K-1 or K-3/K-4 Visa. Although classified as temporary nonimmigrant visas, K visas are issued to people who plan to immigrate permanently.
The K-1 family visa enables fiancées to remain in the U.S. for 90 days to get married to the petitioner; this person can then apply for Lawful Permanent Resident status. (The marriage must occur within the 90 days or the visa holder will be subject to removal proceedings.)
The K-3 is for foreign spouses married to United States citizens. It is valid for two years and may be extended indefinitely for the duration of the marriage. It also allows the spouse to work and travel in and out of the U.S. The spousal relationship as it pertains to U.S. immigration law is defined as legally wedded husband and wife. You’ll find more information here and the immigration lawyers at the Alvarez Law Firm can explain the spousal relationship as it pertains to your situation.
The K-4 visa applies to the foreign spouse’s unmarried children under the age of 21.
Contact The Alvarez Law Firm, PLLC for a free case consultation.