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Family Preference Visas & Immediate Relative Visas

Family Preference Visas & Immediate Relative Visas - Warren Law Firm

The Family IR visa allows US citizens to bring their immediate relatives to the US, allowing them to become lawful permanent residents. 

The following article looks at the different types of family visa in more detail, outlining who is eligible and how to apply. Read on to learn more.

What Types of Family Visa are Available?

There is no one-size-fits-all family visa that will allow you to bring all your relatives to the United States with you. Instead, there are several types of visas to help keep a family together.

Listed below are the main family visas you may require when moving your family to the US.

IR (Immediate Relative) Visas

For immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, IR visas are available to spouses, unmarried children under 21, adopted children, and parents of children who are at least 21 years old. 

If you are a lawful permanent resident trying to bring your immediate family to the US, you can’t use an IR visa, you must use a family preference visa which we will explain later on.

IR-1 Visa:

The IR-1 visa is also known as a marriage green card. It allows a foreign spouse of a US citizen to enter the country and become a lawful resident. 

This visa automatically gives your spouse the right to work in the United States. It is only available to couples who have been married for at least two years. 

If you have been married for less than two years, you will need to apply for a CR-1 visa, which is granted under the condition that you remain married for another two years.

IR-2 Visa:

If you have a child living in a foreign country, you can bring him or her to the US with you by applying for an IR-2 visa. 

This visa is available for biological children of US citizens, as well as adopted children (with restrictions) and stepchildren. In order to be eligible, your child must be under 21 years of age and unmarried. 

Once they hold the IR-2 visa, they will be able to live, study, and work in the United States automatically.

IR-3 Visa:

If you have an adopted child in a foreign country, you will need to obtain an IR-3 visa for them before they can legally enter the country and become a citizen. 

It is a permanent immigrant visa enabling them to obtain a green card, as well as attend school and work without needing an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

IR-4 Visa:

If you already live in the United States and wish to adopt a child from a foreign country, an IR-3 visa will not be appropriate as it is for children who have already undergone the adoption process. 

Instead, you will need to apply for an IR-4 visa. While the IR-3 visa comes with automatic citizenship, a child with an IR-4 visa will only achieve citizen status once their adoption has been finalized.

IR-5 Visa:

Many US citizens with foreign-born parents wish to bring them into the country to live with them. In this situation, you will need to apply for an IR-5 visa so that they can become permanent residents. They will automatically be able to work in the United States.

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Family IR Visa with Warren Law FirmFamily Preference Visas

If you want to bring family who are not immediate relatives with you or are a permanent resident, then a family IR visa will not be appropriate. 

Instead, you will need to obtain a Family Preference visa. 

These visas are reserved for non-immediate family relatives of US citizens and/or Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR). 

Family First Preference (F1):

This visa is for an unmarried adult who is the son or daughter of a US citizen. They must be at least 21 years of age to be eligible, otherwise you can apply for the IR-2 visa instead. 

Family Second Preference (F2):

The F2 visa is for spouses and unmarried children of a lawful permanent resident. The F2 category is divided into two sub-categories:

  • F2A for spouses and unmarried children under 21 years old
  • F2B for unmarried sons and daughters 21 years old and older

Family Third Preference (F3):

This visa is for married sons and daughters of US citizens as well as their spouses and minor children.

Family Fourth Preference (F4):

Family Visa Eligibility with Warren Law Firm

The F4 visa is for brothers and sisters of US citizens as well as their spouses and children. The US citizen must be at least 21 years of age.

While IR visas are unlimited, there are limits to the number of visas available through the Family Preference system. Although requirements vary depending on the circumstances, in general, the following documents will be required for a family visa:

  • Passports valid for 60 days (if available)
  • Affidavit of Support for the U.S. sponsor / petitioner
  • The Immigration Visa and Alien Registration Application
  • Two 2inch x 2inch photographs
  • Civil documents for the applicant such as birth or marriage certificates
  • Completed medical examination forms

Other Relatives

Unfortunately, it is not possible to get a family based green card for more distant relatives such as aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, cousins, in-laws and grandparents. For these relatives, it may be possible to get a visitor visa or an employment based visa based on their own merits.

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