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What are the immigration options for relatives of U.S. citizens?

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2020 | green cards

Preserving family bonds is one of the guiding principles of U.S. immigration policy. For this reason, legal immigrants may be able to petition for visas or Green Cards that allow family members to reside in the states legally.

Immigrants who already have citizen status may sponsor an immediate relative, such as a spouse/fiancé, child or parent. However, extended relatives may also be able to come to the U.S. under the family preference system.

Immediate relatives

Parents, spouses and children (under age 21) of U.S. citizens have the highest preference for gaining legal permanent residency. However, to petition for a parent, the citizen applying must be at least age 21.

Fiancé visas (K-1)

U.S. citizens marrying a foreign fiancé may apply for a K-1 visa. However, the visa may only be valid if the marriage takes place within 90 days of the fiancé’s admission to the U.S.

Spousal visas (K-3)

A foreign spouse or fiancé who currently lives in the U.S. legally may already be eligible for a Green Card application. However, if the marriage occurred outside the U.S., it may be necessary to apply for a K-3 spousal visa.

Visas for stepchildren (K-2 and K-4)

Stepchildren may also be eligible for visas. Intended stepchildren of a fiancé may be able to obtain a K-2 visa, while stepchildren of a foreign spouse may qualify for a K-4 visa.

Visas for extended family

Each year there are a limited number of visas available for extended family members under a family preference system. If the sponsor is a U.S. citizen, generally first preference goes to unmarried, adult children (over 21), second preference to married children of any age and third preference to siblings.