DC Family Immigration Visa Categories

The following is taken from an interview with a DC family immigration lawyer as they discuss the different types of family immigration visas. For more visa information call today and schedule a consultation.

Immediate Relative Category

People who are included in the immediate relative category are spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of U.S. citizens. If you are a U.S. citizen, you can apply for a visa for your spouse, your unmarried child, if they are under 21, and your parents. Parents only qualify as immediate relatives if the applying U.S. citizen is over the age of 21. These are the three very narrow categories of immediate relatives, and if you qualify as one of them, you do not have to wait through the visa bulletin line for a visa to become available. People who are not immediate family members have to wait in line for a visa to become available. They have to wait for the visa bulletin because there is a quota on the number of visas that are allowed to be issued every year. For the immediate relative category, there is no quota, meaning a visa will be immediately available and the only wait time will be the period U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) takes to adjudicate the case.

Family Preference Category

There is a set number of individuals in each category of non-immediate family members that are allowed to be admitted into the United States every year; it is called the family preference quota. If you are in the family preference category you do have to wait in line. The first category under family preference is the F1 category, which includes unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their minor children. There are 22,400 of these that can be issued every year. The second family preference category is F2, which includes spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters who are over 21. There are 114,200 of these issued every year. The third category of family preference is F3, and it is reserved for married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens as well as their spouses and minor children. There are 23,400 of these issued every year. The last category is the F4 category, which includes brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens as well as their spouses and minor children. The U.S. citizen who is applying for these people has to be at least 21 years of age and USCIS issues 65,000 in this category every year.

Family Preference Category Application Process

If you are not an immediate relative but you do fall under one of the family preference categories, then you will file an application with the government that proves your relationship with the citizen or resident who will be applying for you, and then the government will issue your receipt notice. Written on that receipt notice will be your priority date, which is the date when you, in a manner of speaking, got in line to receive the visa.

Because we have so many more people applying for these visas than actual visas available, the family preference category applicants will be placed into a backlog. Even when the family petition, or I-130, has been approved, you will have to wait for all the people in the family preference category that have submitted their application before you to be processed, before you will be eligible for a green card. Which category you are in will determine how long you have to wait in order to get your immigration status.

Conditional Permanent Resident Visas

You become a conditional permanent resident if you have been married to your petitioner – your spouse – for less than two years at the time you submit your green card application. Conditional permanent resident visas are for new marriages in which one spouse applies for the other right after they get married. It essentially puts you in a probationary status and it is used to help protect against marriage fraud. It guards against people who get married, apply for their spouse immediately, and divorce the next day. The conditional permanent resident visa prevents immigration fraud by requiring people to be married for two years before they have full, or non-conditional, legal permanent residence status.

Rights and Responsibilities

Conditional residents receive the rights and responsibilities of being a legal permanent resident, but two years after you receive your conditional resident status, you have to file a form I-751. The 751 is a removal of conditions application, which will remove your probationary status and turn you into a legal permanent resident. If you have divorced your spouse – the petitioner – before your conditional residence period expires, then you have to submit additional documentation to prove that it was a bona fide relationship. It does become complicated to remove the conditions if your marriage has fallen apart during that time. If you are still married, the application to remove the conditions can be very simple. It involves sending in a form in a timely manner. You have to make sure that you do it before two years is up, but if you have been divorced during that time, it is definitely advisable to talk to an immigration attorney. It is very important to submit your application in time. You are allowed to submit it 90 days before your conditional resident status expires, so you want to make sure you do it in a timely manner.

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