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Family-Based Petitions

Family Based Immigrant Visas

Updated July 15, 2013

Family Based Petitions are filed by U.S. citizens, or, in some cases, Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) petitioners on behalf of an alien relative beneficiary, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States, using Form I-130. Aunts, uncles and cousins do not qualify to be family based petitioners.

Immediate Relatives:

These are:

These immediate relative categories are not subject to availability of visa numbers.

Family Based Petitions with Numerical Limitations - Family Preference:

As for other Family Based Petitions, U.S. citizens aged 21 years or older may also file petitions for certain alien relatives such as adult unmarried sons or daughters (F1), married sons or daughters (F3) and brothers or sisters (F4).

Legal Permanet Residents may also file I-130 petitions for their spouses (F21) and minor unmarried children (F22) and their children (F23) or adult unmarried sons or daughters (F24) and their minor children (F25).

However, you should always keep in mind that these immigrant visas are numerically limited and there might be a waiting period, maybe years, before numbers may become available for this kind of visas.  You may find this information on the Visa Bulletin.
Please read carefully the instructions on Form I-130 and be sure to send the form completed and signed with the required supplemental forms and supporting documents according to your case, and the corresponding fees.  This is the first step on the immigration process and it may take some months before your petition is approved by USCIS.

Once the petition is approved, it will then be sent to National Visa Center (NVC) in New Hampshire for their processing.  Petitioners will be informed by the NVC of the steps to follow and document requirements and fees.

Most family-based immigrant visa petitioners need to show that they have adequate means of financial support so that their relatives are not likely to become a public charge.  In such cases, U.S. citizens sponsoring a family member to come to live in the U.S. need to provide an Affidavit of Support, Form I-864 for the relatives they are sponsoring. 

Also, form DS-260 must be filed out for each beneficiary applying for an immigrant visa and returned on time to the National Visa Center.

Once forms and fees requested are collected, the National Visa Center will forward the case file to the overseas Consulate or Embassy where your relative will apply.

All immigrant visa applicants, regardless of age, must go through a medical examination with the physicians and laboratories designated at the Consular Section and must comply with vaccination requirements.

All immigrant visa applicants must provide two recent color passport type photos (5 cm. x 5 cm) as per guidelines. Both photos need to be signed on the reverse and have the complete name and case number of each applicant.

Consular Officers may request additional documentation to prove the existence of a bona fides relationship between petitioner and beneficiary such as family pictures, telephone bills, correspondence e-mails, contracts, bank accounts, etc. In some cases, DNA testing may also be required.

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