Albert Einstein once encouraged people to “rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life.” It’s a wonderful concept, but sometimes life takes us miles away from those we love.
Perhaps you came to the US on an employment-based visa to occupy a vacant executive position at your employer’s US subsidiary. You enjoyed the work, made close friends among your colleagues and neighbors, and finally adjusted your status as a permanent resident. Now you’ve become a US citizen and want your children and your parents, who have been taking care of them in your absence, to join you here.
If you are a U.S citizen and have a close, family member who wants to immigrate to the U.S., an Immediate Relative Immigrant visa may come in handy. The idea is basically to unite family members who are separated by country. Here is everything you need to know about immediate relative immigrant visas.
The immediate relative visa is a type of visa designed specifically for U.S citizens looking to unite with family members who live out of the country. However, this only includes members of the nuclear family, meaning parents, children, and spouses. Other family members such as grandparents, siblings, or cousins cannot apply for the immediate relative visas.
Once the visa is approved, the family member receives a visa that allows them to move and live permanently in the U.S. They can also look for a job without the need of an employment authorization document (aka “work permit”), get a Social Security number, and get a driver’s license. The biggest advantage of the immediate relative visa is that, unlike other types of visas such as employment-based visas, they do not come with a yearly visa issuance limit.
What You Need to Know About Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas
When you want to sponsor your minor children and parents to come to the US, you file an immediate relative petition. Immigration law classifies immediate relatives as the spouse, unmarried minor children, or parents of US citizens. (In the latter case, the US citizen child must be over the age of 21.)
Immediate relatives of US citizens have immigration priority, meaning that they don’t have to wait for a visa number to become available before you can apply to have them join you. In this respect, the process is different from preference relatives, which are the family members of green card holders and certain relatives of US citizens.
In your case, your children and parents live abroad, so you would file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with USCIS. If you were petitioning for a spouse, however, you could apply for a K-3 visa while the I-130 is being processed so that he or she could join you here, and then file an I-485 to adjust their status after they arrive.
Once USCIS advises the National Visa Center (NVC) that the I-130 has been approved, the following events occur:
- The NVC will contact you and your relatives with instructions on how to submit the immigrant visa application and associated documents and pay the fees.
- An interview will be scheduled at the US embassy or consulate closest to where your family lives.
- After an interview with a consular officer, you and your family must wait until all background checks have been completed and a decision is made.
- If the immigrant visas are approved, your relatives will receive their passports with US visas. They must join you here before the visa expires.
- Your family member will have to pay an immigrant fee to cover the costs of producing their green card.
Your parents and children become permanent residents once they enter the US and will receive their green cards at the address provided during the interview at the embassy or consulate.
What if My Family is Already Here?
If your relatives were already in the US, you would file form I-130 and they could concurrently file I-485 to adjust their status to permanent resident. This approach has a few caveats, namely:
- Your family members must be in the country legally.
- They must be physically present in the country at the time of filing.
- The family relationship must exist at the time of filing. For example, if you were applying for a spouse, you must be legally married and not merely engaged.
- Your family members must not have any conditions that would prevent the adjustment of status, such as a criminal record or previous violations of immigration law. It is, however, possible to waive these inadmissibility issues by filing Form I-601, although success will depend on the person’s individual circumstances.
What Are the Types of Immediate Relative Visas?
There are five main types of immediate relative visas:
- IR-1 visa – issued to the spouse of a US citizen
- IR-2 visa – issued to the children of a US citizen (must be unmarried and under the age of 21)
- IR-3 visa – designed for orphan children who are adopted by a US citizen abroad
- IR-4 visa – issued to orphan children to be adopted by a US citizen
- IR-5 visa – issued to parents of a US citizen who is 21 years of age or older
What Are the Requirements of Immediate Relative Visas?
The requirements for the five types of immediate relative visas are different. The application process can be time-consuming and confusing.
If you need legal assistance on this or any other immigration law issue, Katrina Zafiro has you covered. With several years of experience in Family and Immigration law, she has a vast knowledge of both fields and can help you settle your matter as efficiently as possible.
Contact a Seattle Immigration Attorney
Immediate relative immigrant visas involve a lot of paperwork and can be complicated by several factors. At ZafiroLaw, attorney Katrina Zafiro will ensure that all necessary documentation is accurate and filed on time. If you are filing a marriage-based petition, which requires an interview with an immigration officer, Katrina will accompany you to the interview to ensure that your rights are protected. To schedule a consultation with her today, call 206-547-9906.