U.S. citizens who have family living abroad may wish to reunite with them and bring them to the U.S. through visas. These visas can lead to legal permanent residency and even offer a path to citizenship, according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If you have family living abroad and want them to immigrate, it’s important you understand the visa options the USCIS provides and who is eligible to enter the U.S. as a family member.
Who Is Considered an Immediate Relative?
As a U.S. citizen, you are permitted to sponsor your foreign family members to enter the U.S. However, it’s important to understand that the U.S. government does not view all family members equally when it comes to priority. Spouses, unmarried children under 21, and parents of a U.S. citizen are “immediate family” and are exempt from the visa limits set by American immigration agencies. You may also petition for other relatives to enter the U.S., including:
- Unmarried children 21 and older
- Married children of any age whose parents are U.S. citizens
- Siblings of adult U.S. citizens, including half- and adoptive siblings
Types of Visas
When bringing family members to the U.S., you (as an American citizen) petition for them to become applicants for specific visas. The visas most commonly used to bring family members from other countries are:
- The K-1 and K-2 Visas. Also known as a fiancé visa, the K-1 is a path toward permanent residency. After the applicant enters the U.S., he has 90 days to marry the petitioner. After the marriage, newlyweds may petition for adjustment of status. Also, if a K-1 holder has dependent children, they are eligible to enter the U.S. under a K-2 visa.
- The K-3 and K-4 Visas. If the U.S. citizen is already married to the foreign person, the spouse may come to America on a K-3 visa, and her dependent children (if any) may enter on a K-4.
U.S. citizens may also file for permanent residency for their spouses, children, and parents if those relatives possess a visa and wish to obtain lawful permanent residency.
Don’t Handle Your Immigration Case Alone
If you and your family members are ready to begin the immigration petition and application process, you may have questions about paperwork, fees, and filing. The team at Duffy & Feemster can answer your questions and prepare you for every step. To start a conversation, fill out the online contact form on our website.