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Family-based immigration: Two options

There are many ways to immigrate to the United States. For some, one family member may gain citizenship or Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) status. In these cases, this family member can help certain others move to the United States.

The United States Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs notes that there are two main options for individuals in this situation to help others immigrate. These are referred to as family based immigration, and the two main options are:

  • Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas
  • Family Preference Immigrant Visas

Having a basic understanding of each of these paths can help you to determine the right option for your situation.

Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas

There is no limit on the number of these visas that can be given out. These visas are available to close family members of United States citizens. In order to qualify, the applicant must generally be either a spouse, child under that of 21, an orphan adopted by a U.S. citizen or a parent of a U.S. citizen.

Family Preference Immigrant Visas

This type of visa is a bit broader than the previous category. However, there is a limit on the number of these visas that will be issued. This category is further broken into two options, those with more distant relationships with a U.S. citizen and those with relationships with a LPR.

Relations to U.S. citizens that can qualify include unmarried children of the citizen and their children (the citizen's grandchildren), married children with their spouses and children as well as siblings with their spouses and children. The limitations on these visas are, 23,400 for the unmarried category, 23,400 for the married and 65,000 for siblings.

Relations to LPRs that can qualify include spouses, children under the age of 18 and unmarried children over the age of 21. There are 114,200 of these visas available. The Bureau of Consular Affairs notes that the vast majority of these go to spouses and children of LPRs.

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