Family Based Immigration - Fuller & Fuller LLP

Family Based Immigration

We're experts in family based immigration.

The unity of the family is a core national value of the United States. Thomas Jefferson, the Third President of the United States, and primary author of the Declaration of Independence, once stated “The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family.” The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) enshrines this inherent value into law, requiring that most intending immigrants to the United States demonstrate that they possess either close familial ties to the United States or hold employment-based skills that are sought after by a U.S. employer. The family is the nucleus that drives business creation and ingenuity, ensures the maintenance of strong community support systems, and strengthens our nation.

Overview of the Family-Based Immigration System

U.S. immigration laws permit U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to sponsor close family members for immigrant visas, or permanent residence. Prospective immigrants must be either an “immediate relative” of a U.S. citizen or a qualifying family member under the family-sponsored preference system. Immediate relatives are: (1) spouses of U.S. citizens; (2) unmarried minor children (under 21 years of age) of U.S. citizens; and (3) parents of adult (21+ years) U.S. citizens. The family- sponsored preference system is limited to close family members of U.S. citizens or LPRs as follows:

  • First: Unmarried adult children of U.S. citizens;
  • Second (A): Spouses and minor children of LPRs;
  • Second (B): Unmarried adult children of LPRs;
  • Third: Married adult children of U.S citizens; and
  • Fourth: Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.

Cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and other extended family members are not eligible to immigrate to the United States under the family-based immigration system.

The Number of Family-Based Immigrants Admitted Each Year

Congress has established a worldwide limit of 480,000 family-based visas that can be issued each fiscal year. There is no limitation on the number of visas that may be issued to immediate relatives; however, the number of visas issued to immediate relatives is subtracted from the 480,000 cap on family-based immigration to determine the total number of other family-based immigrants to be admitted. To ensure that all family-based visas are not used by immediate relatives, Congress set a “floor” of at least 226,000 visas that must be allocated through the preference system. In addition to the numerical limitations on visas, the law also prohibits any single country from receiving more than 7% of the total number of visas that are issued each year.

Numerical Limitation on Family-Based Visa Applications
Visa Category Sponsor Relationship Annual Numerical Limit
Immediate Relatives U.S. Citizens Spouse,unmarried minor child, parent Unlimited
Family Preference Allocation
First Preference U.S. Citizen Unmarried adult child 23,400
Second Preference A Spouse / minor child 87,900
Second Preference B Unmarried adult child 26,300
Third Preference U.S. Citizen Married adult child 23,400
Fourth Preference U.S. Citizen Brother / Sister 65,000

Get The Visa
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Where and How to Apply for a Family Based Visa?

To get immediate family immigration assistance please call (212) 317-0700 to speak to an experienced immigration attorney.

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Our Process

  • Please reach out to us by email or phone to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.
  • Our attorneys will work with you to categorize the family-based visa category for the intending immigrant.
  • We will then provide you with a checklist of documents and information needed from the petitioner and from the intending familial immigrant.
  • We will also provide you an estimated flat fee for the case and discuss the filing fees and other disbursement expenses you can anticipate.
  • We will prepare the required documents for your petition or application and will send them to you for review and signature.
  • We will then submit your petition or application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) or will provide the necessary documents for your qualifying relative to make a personal application to a Consular Officer at a U.S. Consular Post or to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer at a U.S. port of entry.
  • We will track the progress of your petition and keep you updated and will provide the intending familial immigrant with instructions for making and attending an immigrant visa interview appointment at a U.S. Consular post.

How To Prepare

Prior to a consultation with one of our attorneys, please be prepared with the following information so that we can best help you determine how to proceed: Information on the qualifying relative; and Current visa category of the qualifying relative (if applicable).

Frequently asked Questions

  • How long does it take for a Family Visa to process?

    How long a Family Immigrant Visa takes to process is highly dependent on the familial relationship with the qualifying relative. Please contact one of our highly experienced attorneys for more information.

  • What is "Adjustment of Status"?

    Adjustment of status is the process by which a person can becomes a permanent resident within the United States without having to leave the country. This is true for people who apply to become permanent residents through any means, including visa petitions. There are different types of adjustment of status depending on the basis for eligibility. This process is done with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Individuals who are not eligible for adjustment of status will need to go through consular processing.

  • What is "Consular Processing"?

    Consular processing is the process through which a person obtains permanent residence from outside the United States. Unlike adjustment of status, consular processing involves travel outside of the United States, and an interview with a consular officer to obtain a green card.