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Understanding family-sponsored visas

Family-sponsored visas help families reunite and live together in the United States. For people in Texas, it’s important to know the different types of family-sponsored visas and how to qualify.

Types of family-sponsored visas

Family-sponsored visas come in two main types: immediate relative visas and family preference visas.

Immediate relative visas are for close family members of U.S. citizens, such as spouses, unmarried children under 21, and parents of U.S. citizens aged 21 and older. There is no limit to the number of these visas given out each year.

Family preference visas are for other family members of U.S. citizens and some relatives of lawful permanent residents. The categories include unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (F1), spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (21 and older) of lawful permanent residents (F2), married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (F3), and brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens (F4).

Eligibility criteria

To get a family-sponsored visa, both the sponsor and the applicant must meet certain requirements. The sponsor must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and must show they can financially support the family member. This usually means meeting minimum income requirements and providing an affidavit of support.

The applicant must be a qualifying family member of the sponsor and must go through a medical exam, background check, and an interview. They must also provide proof of the family relationship, such as birth certificates or marriage certificates.

Application process

The process to apply for a family-sponsored visa includes several steps:

  1. Petition filing: The U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident sponsor files a Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  2. Approval and processing: After USCIS approves the petition, it goes to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing. The NVC collects fees, forms, and documents from the applicant.
  3. Visa interview: The applicant schedules an interview at the U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country. A consular officer will decide if the applicant qualifies for the visa.
  4. Visa issuance and entry to the U.S.: If approved, the applicant gets a visa stamp in their passport, allowing them to travel to the U.S. Upon arrival, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers will inspect the applicant before allowing entry.

Why family-sponsored visas matter

Family-sponsored visas help Texas families reunite with non-citizen family members. By following the steps and meeting the requirements, families can successfully navigate this process and be together.