Everything You Need to Know About Family-Based Immigration

Smiling family gathered together on a picnic blanket in the park.

What is Family-Based Immigration?

Foreign nationals who want to obtain permanent residency in the U.S. may be eligible to do so through their relationships with family members who are citizens or legal permanent residents of the United States.

Under immigration law, there are many ways that this can be accomplished if you meet specific eligibility requirements. Understanding how family-based immigration works can make all the difference in the outcome of your immigration case. Here’s what you need to know:

What Are the Types of Family Based Visas?

There are a few types of visas that are categorized as family-based, such as the following:

Fiancé Visa

A fiancé visa allows U.S. citizens to bring a foreign national to the U.S. with the intention of marriage. However, before getting married, a K-1 visa petition must be filed. There are also qualifications, such as:

  • You are a United States citizen
  • You met your fiancé in person within the past two years. Some exceptions may apply
  • Both you and your fiancé are legally able to marry (meaning you dissolved all prior marriages through a divorce, annulment, or death).

Fiancé Visas for Same-Sex Couples

Same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 U.S. states. That means that lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals have the same as straight couples under immigration law. Same-sex couples can apply for a fiancé visa as long as they meet the requirements mentioned above.

Immediate Relative Visas

You may qualify for an immediate relative visa through a close relationship.

  • IR-1 Visa - Spouse of a U.S. citizen.
  • IR-2 Visa - Unmarried children of a U.S. citizen who is under 21 years of age.
  • IR-3 Visa - Orphans who are adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen.
  • IR-4 Visa - Orphans who are to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen.
  • IR-5 Visa - Parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old.

Family Preference Visas

You may be eligible for a family preference visa through a more distant relationship.

  • Family First Preference (F1 Visa) - Daughters and sons of a U.S. citizen and their minor children.
  • Family Second Preference (F2 Visa) - Spouses, minor children, and unmarried daughters and sones who are over the age of 21.
  • Family Third Preference (F3 Visa) - Daughters and sons of U.S. citizens, their spouses, as well as minor children.
  • Family Fourth Preference (F4 Visa) - Sisters and brothers of a U.S. citizen and their spouses, as well as their minor children. The U.S. citizen sibling must be at least 21 years of age.

Not all family members can sponsor a relative for immigration. The following are not eligible:

  • Grandparents
  • Aunts
  • Uncles
  • In-laws
  • Nieces and nephews

If you want to apply for a family preference visa, it’s important to remember that there are a limited number of visas allocated for a family each fiscal year.

What is VAWA, and How Does This Protect Immigrants?

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was enacted in 1994 to protect victims who have suffered domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. While the acronym refers explicitly to women, men and children are also protected under this provision. Non-citizen immigrants who are victims of domestic violence and abuse may be eligible for protection under VAWA. The eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Spouse: If you are or were an abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If your child has been abused by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, you may also file as an abused spouse.
  • Child: If you are a child under 21, unmarried, and have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent, you may file as an abused child.
  • Parent: If you are the parent of a U.S. citizen, and your U.S. citizen child has abused you. You may be eligible to file as a child after age 21, but before age 25, if you can prove that the reason you not filed was due to abuse.

When it comes to proving your abuse, U.S. immigration officials are fully aware that this may be a difficult task. This is why it is not required to provide a police report as evidence. However, you must be able to prove that the abuse happened in the United States. You must also prove cohabitation with your abuser.

Victims of spousal abuse must prove:

  • The marriage is bonafide.
  • The abuse occurred during the marriage.
  • If divorced, the divorced happened less than two years before filing a case under VAWA.

How Does Adjustment of Status Work Under Family-Based Immigration?

Foreign nationals can apply for a green card to obtain permanent legal residency through adjustment of status. To be eligible, you must be:

Contact an Orange County Immigration Lawyer

Obtaining legal residency through family-based immigration can be a complicated process. Attempting to handle an immigration case on your own can put your case at risk and leave you without approval for legal residency in the United States. Having an experienced immigration attorney in your corner can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.

If you need assistance with family-based immigration or any other immigration matter, we are here to help you. Contact Yekrangi & Associates at (949) 478-4963 to get your immigration case started today.

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