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If you’re a lawful permanent resident or naturalized citizen, you are permitted to bring some of your family members to the U.S. However, there are various guidelines, rules, and regulations concerning family-based visas.
The process is typically much easier for immediate relatives. The “family preference” categories allow U.S. citizens to bring family members other than close relatives to the U.S.
Before you begin the process, understanding what category your case falls under is essential. A skilled Phoenix immigration attorney can help you understand the requirements and expectations for each family-based visa category.Understanding Family-Based Visas in Phoenix
Family-based visas (immigrant visa IV) are for foreign citizens that want to live permanently in the U.S. To be eligible for a family-based visa, an immediate relative (older than 21) who is a U.S. citizen or holds a green card must petition for their non-citizen foreign relative. Depending on the circumstances and visa type, there are additional requirements. Learn more below.Non-Preference – Immediate Relatives
There are two kinds of family-based visas. They include immediate relative visas and family preference visas. Immediate relative visas are based on close familial ties with a U.S. citizen like a husband, wife, sibling, child (unmarried and under 21), or parent. There is no annual limit to how many immigrants receive this type of visa.Establishing a Family Preference Relationship
Family preference visas are more specific. They target individuals outside of the nuclear family but are still related to a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) in some cases. It’s important to note that Lawful Permanent Residents in Phoenix can only file immigrant visa petitions for a spouse, or unmarried child (with certain restrictions).
The number of approved family preference visas is limited per fiscal year. That means you could do everything right in your application but still not receive a family-based visa if too many others have already received one.
Working with an experienced immigration lawyer in Phoenix can help to ensure you receive the earliest “priority date” possible, avoid mistakes and follow all the correct procedures the first time around.Family One (F1)
The F1 preference is for adult children of U.S. citizens who are not married and 21 years or older. They must apply to the F1 visa category and not the immediate relatives’ category because they are over 21. It’s important to note that it could take 5 to 15 years to receive this visa type.Family Two (F2)
Lawful permanent residents in Phoenix who wish to bring their spouse, minor children, or unmarried children over 21 to the U.S. would fall under this category. There are two subcategories within the F2 visa category:
- Family 2A: Restricted to the spouse or unmarried children of a Lawful Permanent Resident. It can take two years or more to receive the Family F2A visa.
- Family 2B: Limited to unmarried adult children (over 21). Generally, the wait time for this visa is 5-10 years. However, in some cases, the wait can be 20 years or more.
Generally, the F2A visa takes priority over the F2B. If you’re interested in applying for an F2A or F2B visa, then it’s in your best interest to consult with a proven Phoenix immigration lawyer to avoid potential delays.Family Three (F3)
The F3 visa is for U.S. citizens who petition to sponsor their married adult children. Minor children and spouses can also be included. Depending on your nationality and many other factors, it can take 10 to 20 years to be approved for an F3 visa.Family Four (F4)
United States citizens who are 21 years or older can sponsor their siblings, parents, and minor children using an F4 visa. The average wait time for this category is about 13 years. However, it can take as long as 20 years in some cases.