Requirements for the US immigration

There is a long list of different US visas that are available for applying for. One of the reasons people wish to immigrate to the US is to join their family members, so there is a US visa that is set up for that purpose. The rules around who can apply is determined by having an immediate family member that is a US citizen and only certain family members are eligible.
The relatives that a US citizen can petition for are:
  • Spouse
  • Children (who are unmarried and under 21)
  • Sons and daughters (married and/or 21 or over)
  • Parents (if you are 21 or over)
  • Siblings (if you are 21 or over)
When sending the petition, the US citizen fills in the Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative and if approved this will provide a Green Card for permanent residence. As the I-130 processing time can be quite long, there is the option to apply for K-3 visa (spouse) or K-4 visa (spouse’s children) to be granted permission for them to join you in the US whilst the Form I-130 is awaiting approval.

What is the process?

The first step is for the relative that is a US citizen to file the petition, completing 12 pages of questions and paying the $535 filing fee. Evidence will be required to prove relationships e.g. copy of the birth certificate.
As part of the application process, the visa applicant must attend an interview at the US Embassy and will also be required to take a medical examination.

Types of family immigration visas

  • IR-1 - The spouse of a US citizen is able to apply for IR1 visa, provided that they are a legally married husband or wife. Common-law spouses are sometimes able to qualify but this depends on the law of the country of their common-law marriage.
  • IR-2 - This type of visa is for unmarried children of a US citizen that are aged under 21 years old.
  • IR-3 – This visa is available for orphans that are adopted from abroad by a US citizen.
  • IR-4 – Another type of adoption visa, this is for orphans adopted in the US by a US citizen.
  • IR-5 – Parents of US citizens are able to apply for the IR-5 visa to join their son or daughter (who is at least 21 years old) in the US.

Non-immediate family members

Where family members are not in the immediate family as listed above, there are still other options that can be explored to obtain a visa. This comes in the form of the Family Preference Immigration Visa, which is a type of visa that is limited and therefore not generally very easy to have approved.
The preference relationships are as follows:
  • F1 Family First Preference – For unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens.
  • F2 Family Second Preference – For spouses, minor children and unmarried sons and daughters (aged 21+) of Lawful Permanent Residents of the US.
  • F3 Family Third Preference - For married sons and daughters of US citizens (also for their spouses and children under 21).
  • F4 Family Fourth Preference – For siblings of US citizens (also for their spouses and children) where the US citizen is a minimum 21 years old.