You can apply for a family immigration visa if a relative of yours, who is an U.S. citizen, or U.S. lawful permanent resident, files a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in order to sponsor your application for a green card, which will allow you to become a US permanent resident.
As your sponsor your relative would be required to prove that he/she has enough money or assets to support your stay in United States. However, if your relative in the U.S. is one of the following they cannot sponsor you: your grandparents, an uncle or aunt, your in-laws, or a cousin.
For immigration purposes relatives of US citizens, are classified into two main categories:
1. Immediate Relative Category, and
2. Preference Categories consisting of 5 sub categories
A. Family Immigration Visa: Immediate Relatives
The visas for immediate family members are not subjected to annual numerical quotas and are always available. This specifically defined category includes:
Spouses of U.S. citizens
Children (unmarried and under 21) of U.S. citizens
Parents of U.S. citizens (provided the petitioning citizen is 21 or older.)
B. Family Immigration Visa: Family Preference Categories
You would belong in one of the following preference categories if you are not an immediate relative. These categories, unlike the immediate relatives, are subjected to annual numerical limits, meaning that only a limited number of these visas gets granted each year. You would be listed as:
- First preference: If you are the unmarried, adult (21years and older) son or daughter of a U.S. citizen;
- Second Preference (2A): as the spouse of a green card holder, or the unmarried child (under 21) of a permanent resident;
- Second Preference (2B): as an unmarried adult son or daughter of a permanent residents;
- Third Preference: as a married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen (your spouse and minor children are included);
- Fourth Preference: being the brother or sister of an adult U.S. citizen (your spouse and minor children are included).
C. Family Immigration Visa: Spouse or Fiancé(e)
Note: For immigration to the United States the term “spouse” refers to legally wedded husband or wife.
Spouse Immigration Visa for Spouse of a US Citizen
A US citizen can bring his/her spouse to live and work in the United States. As a bona fide, legal spouse of a US citizen you are eligible to apply for immigration to the United States to live and work. Being married to a US citizen makes you an immediate relative (see Immediate Relatives above) and you can apply for a green card once you get through the immigration process. This group is not subjected to an annual numerical limitations in visas being granted.
There are two ways in which the spouse of a US citizen may enter the United States:
- On an Immigrant visa for a Spouse of a U.S. Citizen using An immigrant Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130.
- On a Non-immigrant visa for spouse (K-3) (to be filed and the visa issued in the country of marriage). Once the visa has been issued the spouse can enter the US and wait for the immigration process to be completed.
Spouse Immigration Visa for Spouse of a US Permanent Resident
As a spouse of a US permanent resident (i.e. who is not a US citizen) your immigration application is processed differently to that of a spouse of a US citizen, as you are classified under the Second Preference (2A) category and not under the Immediate Relatives category. The preference categories are subjected to annual numerical limits in visas being granted, so you may have to wait, probably, a few years until your immigration is finalized.
Click on Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for more information regarding Spouse Immigration. http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_2991.html
Fiancé(e) Immigration Visa for a Fiancé(e) of a US Citizen
An American citizen, may bring his/her fiancé(e) to the United States to marry and live in the United States. Your US fiancé(e) will need to submit the I-129F fiancé(e) petition on your behalf. As the fiancé(e) of a US citizen, you will require a non-immigrant visa for fiancé(e) (K-1) to travel to the United States for marriage.