AR and FP visas: What are the differences?

As a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you likely want to bring additional family members to this country as well. The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs explains that you can do this by means of helping your relatives obtain one of two types of visas: Immediate Relative Immigrant or Family Preference Immigrant. 

Which type of visa you and your family members choose depends on the relationship each one bears to you. 

Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas

IR visas apply to your immediate family members as follows: 

  • IR-1 visa: your husband or wife 
  • IR-2 visa: your minor unmarried child(ren) 
  • IR-3 visa: an orphan you adopt abroad 
  • IR-4 visa: an orphan you adopt once he or she comes to this country 
  • IR-5 visa: your mother or father 

The U.S. government places no restrictions on the number of IR visas your various immediate relatives can apply for in any given year. 

Family Preference Immigrant Visas

FP visas apply to broader categories of your family members as follows: 

  • F1 visa: your unmarried adult child(ren) and his, her or their minor child(ren) 
  • F2 visa: your spouse, minor child(ren) and unmarried adult child(ren) 
  • F3 visa: your married child(ren) and his, her or their spouses and minor child(ren) 
  • F4 visa: your siblings and their respective spouses and minor child(ren) 

The U.S. government places more restrictions on Family Preference visas. For instance, while you need be only a Lawful Permanent Resident to obtain an F2 visa for your spouse, minor child(ren) and unmarried adult child(ren), you must be a U.S. citizen to obtain F1, F3 and F4 visas for your family members who fall into these categories. In addition, the U.S. government issues only a limited number of FP visas each year.