Family Preference Visas in Maryland

A Family Preference Immigrant Visa is a good visa option for individuals who have family members that are US citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents. The different categories of family preference are available to foreign immigrants, and the application for those visas can be complicated with a lot of detailed information.

The application has a lot of detailed considerations, and the requirements can be difficult to collect. It is important for those applying to work with a skilled immigration attorney in Maryland to help with all of the visa application considerations and to help them understand their specific category.

Visa Considerations

Family Preference-based Visas in Maryland are different than Immediate Relatives Visas because non-immediate relatives are not eligible for visas immediately upon the I-130 being approved. This means that they need to wait for a visa to become available in whatever category that they are in. This creates a lot of obstacles for people who are not in the immediate relatives category because someone may file an application for their relatives and the I-130 portion of the application may be approved in a matter of months, but they may not be eligible for their Green Card for a number of years. It can be up to 20 years in some categories.

If someone is in the US, for example, and they have an I-130 that has been approved but they are not going to have any valid status for two decades, then they do not want to overstay their legal status or their legal visa more than 180 days because that could make them ineligible for benefits in the future.

If someone wants to apply for a non-immediate family member who is already in the US, they need to make sure that they consult with an immigration attorney who has experienced with family preference visas in Maryland before that individual overstays whatever status they are in.

Family Preference Categories

  • Category 1, or the F1 category, is for unmarried adult sons and daughters of US citizens. It means the application is the son or daughter of a US citizen and they are over the age of 21. Once someone gets married, they will fall out of this category
  • Category 2, or the F2 category, is for spouses, minors, unmarried children under 21 years of age, and unmarried sons and daughters who are over the age of 21 of lawful permanent residents
  • Category 3, or the F3 category, is for married sons and daughters of US citizens
  • Category 4, or the F4 category, is for brothers and sisters of US citizens and their spouses and children if the US citizens are 21 years of age or older. In this category, someone actually cannot apply for people in the F1 category unless the petitioning US citizen is over 21

Applying for a Visa

If you are applying for the family preference visa in Maryland, you would file it on the same form as for the immediate relatives of US citizens, which is the USCIS form I-130. You will file the application with the USCIS and submit all supporting documentation that proves the relationship. Once that I-130 is approved, you will be entered into the Family Preference Category.

In some cases, your category can change while you are waiting for a visa to become available. Sometimes this happens when an individual applies for their family member when they are a Green Card holder, but they become a citizen while the application is pending or while the individual is waiting for a visa to become available. In those cases, you need to inform USCIS that the change in category has occurred, because sometimes they do not initiate this change. You need to inform USCIS of the change that has occurred and let them know how this affects your eligibility. In some cases, they can place you into the Immediate Relative category and you will be immediately available for a Green Card. You do not need to wait through the Visa Bulletin. Because the process can be complex, an immigration attorney will best be able to help someone through the process.

Family Preference Visas in Maryland

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