Immigration Policies and Procedures: Family Visas

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Family Visas

For United States citizens who wish to help their family members gain Visas, there are rules and regulations that govern this procedure. The United States Immigration Law, through the Immigration and Nationality Act allows for two groups of family based visa categories, which includes immediate relatives and family preference categories. For the United States citizen, their relatives’ acquisition of residency to the US is dependent on their filing of relevant petitions depending on their relationship. The residency can come in various forms depending on the applicant’s relation to the US citizen. The US residency options include; a Green card, a K-3/K-4 visa or a fiancé visa. There are policies and procedures for getting a family visa which vary from other visa acquiring classifications.  This article has provided a generalized overview of what to expect in the family visa policies and procedures courtesy of Toppins Law Firm.


Immediate Family Visa Application Category

The relatives in this category that are legible to a US citizen’s family visa petition include:

  • Their spouses
  • Their unmarried children under the age of 21
  • Parents of the U.S citizen, as long as the petitioning citizen is over 21 years of age.

These family members, who are referred to immediate relatives, do not need to wait in line for visas. That is because there are available derivative visas for them by their relationship with the United States citizen. Nonetheless, to adjust their status within the United States to permanent residency, the immediate relatives begin by filing an I-130 petition for Alien Relative. In this petition, the family relationship is established.

The I-130 petition is an application for a Green Card which is the initial application for the permanent residency application. The immediate relative can, therefore, file form I-485 to officially apply for permanent residency or adjust their visa status. This follow up petition can be filed after a while or alongside the initial I-130 petition.

Family Preference Visa Application Category

This category is meant for the non-immediate family members that a United States citizen wishes to petition for visas. Their applications depend highly on the priority date; that is the date of filing their relevant petition (form I-130). The family preference category visa is also subject to an annual numerical limit. The following are the groups of the preference family category that are eligible for a visa application:

  • First preference: Unmarried adult children, where the adult is 21 years of age and over.
  • Second preference (2A): spouses of green card holders and unmarried children under 21 years of age.
  • Second preference (2B): unmarried adult children (21 and over) of permanent residents.
  • Third preference: married children at any age of the US citizen.
  • Fourth preference: siblings of the adult (21 years and over) United States citizen.

For their visa application, the US citizen is expected to file an initial form I-130 for an alien relative. A petition I-485 for adjustment of status or permanent residency can then be filed alongside or after the initial I-130 petition. Then there is the form I-864 which is filed as an affidavit of support.


The fiancé of a United States citizen residing outside the United States is also a relative of whom a visa petition can be passed through on their behalf. For one’s fiancé application, the United States citizen is expected to file a form I-129F petition for Alien Fiancé to the USCIS.

The following are the other relatives eligible to join your fiancé to the United States in the different visas available through the I-129F petition according to the USCIS:

  • K-1 Visa that brings your fiancée and their children.
  • K-2 Visa that brings your fiancé and an accompanying relative bringing them for marriage.
  • K-3 Visa that also brings your fiancé’s children.
  • K-4 Visa that brings your fiancé to the US for permanent residency.


Here is a generalized procedure on the visa application process done on behalf of relatives:

  • The initial step for the two family categories (immediate and preference family) is the petitioning of file I-130 to the USCIS.
  • As for the fiancé visa, the initial file to be petitioned is I-129F.
  • If the relative resides outside the US, your petition is to be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC), from where the petition will be forwarded to the relevant United States consulate. And after processing your relative will be contacted and guided on what to do (consular processing).
  • Once these initial petitions have been approved by the USCIS, the relatives can move to the US.
  • The relative is then expected to wait until a visa number is available before they can apply to become lawful permanent residents of the United States.
  • The application to adjust their visa status is done through filing a form I-485.

In conclusion, this article has provided the general policies and procedure set by the United States Immigration system for family visa applications. But you cannot do it alone, you need professional help, and Toppins Law Firm is exactly the firm to give you this help with satisfactory results.