The Immigration and Nationality Act allows for the immigration of foreigners to the United States based on relationship to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. Family-based immigration falls under two basic categories: unlimited and limited.
Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens (IR): The spouse, widow(er) and unmarried children under 21 of a U.S. citizen, and the parent of a U.S. citizen who is 21 or older.
Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their children, if any. (23,400)
Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (over age 20) of lawful permanent residents. (114,200) At least seventy-seven percent of all visas available for this category will go to the spouses and children; the remainder will be allocated to unmarried sons and daughters.
Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and children. (23,400)
Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of United States citizens, and their spouses and children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age. (65,000)
Relatives of intending immigrants who plan to base their immigrant visa applications on family relationship must obtain a Form I-130, Immigrant Petition for Relative, from Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS). The petitioning U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident must submit the Form I-130 to the CIS office. Forms and instructions are available from the CIS. Once CIS approves the petition, they will send the petitioner a notice of approval, Form I-797. CIS will also forward the approved petition to the Immigrant Visa Processing Center, which will contact the intending immigrant with further information.
VISA INELIGIBILITY / WAIVER
The immigration laws of the United States, in order to protect the health, welfare, and security of the United States, prohibit the issuance of a visa to certain applicants. Examples of applicants who must be refused visas are those who: have a communicable disease such as tuberculosis, have a dangerous physical or mental disorder, or are drug addicts; have committed serious criminal acts; are terrorists, subversives, members of a totalitarian party, or former Nazi war criminals; have used illegal means to enter the United States; or are ineligible for citizenship. Some former exchange visitors must live abroad two years. Physicians who intend to practice medicine must pass a qualifying exam before receiving immigrant visas. If found to be ineligible, the consular officer will then advise the applicant if the law provides for some form of waiver.
OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION
Documents for a Visa Application
The petitioner/sponsor must provide an Affidavit of Support, Form I-864. All Applicants must submit certain personal documents such as passports, birth certificates, police certificates, and other civil documents. The consular officer will inform visa applicants of the documents needed as their applications are processed.
Before the issuance of an immigrant visa, every applicant, regardless of age, must undergo a medical examination. The examination will be conducted by a doctor designated by the consular officer. Costs for such examinations must be borne by the applicant, in addition to the visa fees.
Important Notice: Application Processing Fees for Immigrant Visas Increased from $335 to $355 starting January 1, 2008. Applicants who have paid the current $335 fee prior to January 1, 2008 will not be required to make up the difference and pay the higher fee even if their application is actually processed after January 1, 2008.
Description of Service and Fee Amount:
- Filing an immigrant visa petition (Collected for USCIS and subject to change)
- Immigrant visa application processing fee (per person), Form DS-230 : $355.00
- Diversity Visa Lottery surcharge for immigrant visa application (per person applying as a result of the lottery program): $375.00
- Immigrant visa security surcharge, for all IV and DV applicants: $45.00
- Affidavit of Support Review (only when AOS is reviewed domestically), Form I-864 : $70.00
|Note: Forms and fee amounts are listed for immigration petitions which are submitted to Department of State, either accepted at an Embassy or Consulate abroad, or within the U.S to the National Visa Center or Kentucky Consular Center. Other immigration related forms can only be approved by the Department of Homeland Security’s United States Citizenship and Immigrants Services (USCIS). For other fees (relating to forms starting with an “I” select USCIS Forms and Fees for additional information.|
Special Visa Services
Description of Service and Fee Amount
- Special Visa Services:
- Application for Determining Returning Resident Status, Form DSP-117 : $400.00
- Transportation letter for Legal Permanent Residents of U.S.: $165.00
- Application for Waiver of 2 year foreign residency requirement (J Waiver),
Data Sheet, Form 3035 : $215.00
- Application for Waiver of immigrant visa ineligibility (collected for USCIS and subject to change): $250.00
- Refugee or significant public benefit parole case processing: No Fee
- U.S. Visa fingerprinting: $85.00
|(NOTE: This fee chart is based on the Code of Federal Regulations – Title 22, Part 22, Sections 22.1 through 22.7.)|
Whenever there are more qualified applicants for a category than there are available numbers, the category will be considered oversubscribed, and immigrant visas will be issued in the chronological order in which the petitions were filed until the numerical limit for the category is reached. The filing date of a petition becomes the applicant’s priority date. Immigrant visas cannot be issued until an applicant’s priority date is reached. In certain heavily oversubscribed categories, there may be a waiting period of several years before a priority date is reached. Check the Visa Bulletin for the latest priority dates.
Since no advance assurances can be given that a visa will be issued, applicants are advised not to make any final travel arrangements, not to dispose of their property, and not to give up their jobs until visas have been issued to them. An immigrant visa can be valid for six months from date of issuance.
With few exceptions, a person born in the United States has a claim to U.S. citizenship. Persons born in countries other than the U.S. may have a claim, under United States law, to U.S. nationality if:
Either parent was born or naturalized in the U.S., or
Either parent was a U.S. citizen at the time of applicant’s birth.
Any applicant believing he or she may have a claim to U.S. citizenship should not apply for a visa until his or her citizenship has been determined by the consular office.
Further information about the specific categories of immigrant visas listed above and which category a relative may fall under can be obtained by contacting us.
Questions on the visa application procedures at the American consular office overseas should be addressed to that consular office. A List of Consular Offices is available by clicking here.