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What Are the Quotas for Family-Based Visas in the United States?

 Posted on April 27, 2023 in Immigration

Dallas Family-Based Visas LawyerImmigrants who wish to resettle in the United States and U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who wish to sponsor family members for immigration may struggle to understand their options and the laws that apply to them. In family-based immigration cases, different types of visas may be available depending on the status of the sponsor and their relationship with those who will be immigrating to the U.S. In addition to determining the appropriate types of visas, family members will need to understand the quotas that determine the number of visas that may be issued each year.

Numerical Limits on Family-Based Visas

The United States sets strict annual limits for the number of family-based visas that will be available. Because of these limits, certain immigrants may experience lengthy wait times before they can receive approval for a visa. In some cases, they may need to wait for years or even decades.

Family-based immigrant visas are divided into two categories: immediate relative visas and family preference visas. The laws in the United States have set a limit of 480,000 family-based visas that may be issued each year. In addition, there is a per-country limit that applies to all visas issued, and the number of visas issued for people from one country cannot be more than 7 percent of the total number of people who immigrate to the U.S. in a given year.

Immediate relative visas, which are available for spouses, parents, and unmarried minor children of U.S. citizens, do not have any limits on the number of visas issued each year. Family preference visas, which are available for immediate relatives of Green Card holders and certain other relatives of U.S. citizens, do have numerical limits. The limits that apply to different categories of family preference visas are:

  • F1 visas - Up to 23,400 visas may be issued to unmarried adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.

  • F2A visas - Up to 87,900 visas may be issued to spouses and unmarried minor children of Green Card holders. 75 percent of these visas are exempt from the per-country limit.

  • F2B visas - Up to 26,300 visas may be issued to unmarried adult sons and daughters of Green Card holders.

  • F3 visas - Up to 23,400 visas may be issued to married adult children of U.S. citizens.

  • F4 visas - Up to 65,000 visas may be issued to siblings of U.S. citizens.

Adjustments may be made to these numbers based on the number of visas issued in certain categories. For example, if there are any unused F4 visas, additional F1 visas may be available.

A minimum of 226,000 family preference visas will be issued each year. This means that if more than 254,000 immediate relative visas are issued in a given year, the total number of family-based visas issued may exceed 480,000. The number of family-based visas available may also increase if there were any unused employment-based visas in a given year.

Visa availability is generally determined based on a person's priority date (the date their visa application was filed) and their country of origin. When there are more visa applications filed than the number of visas available in a certain category, the Department of State will set a cutoff date for when visas may be issued to people from different countries. These cutoff dates are published in a monthly visa bulletin. If a person's priority date is earlier than the applicable cutoff date, they may proceed with the immigration process. If the cutoff date is after the priority date, the applicant must wait until a visa becomes available.

Contact Our Dallas Family-Based Visas Lawyer

The rules that apply to quotas for family-based visas in the United States are complex, and they can lead to long wait times for family members who are looking to complete the immigration process. If you are an immigrant seeking a family-based visa, or if you wish to sponsor a family member for immigration Law Office of Jae Lee can help you understand your options. Our Plano family immigration attorney will work with you to complete the immigration process successfully. Contact us at 214-295-3014 for a free consultation.


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