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Answers to common questions about family immigration

| May 8, 2020 | Immigration Law

You can apply for an immigrant visa to live in the United States permanently if you have a family member who will sponsor you. He or she must be a lawful permanent resident or citizen of the U.S. who is 21 or older.

Explore the process of family immigration if your spouse, parent, adult child or sibling already has citizenship, or your spouse or unmarried adult child has a green card.

What are the types of family visas?

You may qualify for one of two types of family visas:

  • The family preference visa, available in limited numbers for specific relationships
  • Immediate relative visa, available in unlimited numbers each year for immediate family members

How do I start the process?

First, your family member must file Form I-130, Petition for an Alien Relative. If U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services approves your petition, they will forward it to the National Visa Center. When this occurs, you will receive a welcome letter that outlines the required fees, supporting documents and other paperwork. When the NVC has your complete documentation and an Affidavit of Support, the agency will process your application.

Both you and your family member must complete the Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration. You must provide required civil documents from your nation of origin, such as a birth certificate.

What is the Affidavit of Support?

The sponsoring family member must also complete the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864). With this legal document, he or she agrees to support you financially until you either work and pay Social Security tax for 10 years or become a citizen. The sponsor must also include financial documentation that proves his or her ability to do so. When the family member has insufficient income, you may receive support from a joint sponsor.

Will I have an interview?

The NVC will notify you of your interview date after receiving your complete application, as well as a date for your medical examination. Processing times to receive a decision typically take several months.