A visa is a document on the passport that allows a foreign national to enter the United States. A visa is issued OUTSIDE of the United States, not inside the United States. A family visa or family-based visa, is a visa issued to a family member of a United States citizen (USC) that allows s/he to enter the United States. There are several types of these family visas.
- K1/K2 Fiance/Fiancee Visa: A United States citizen who wishes to bring his/her fiancé/ée and the child(ren) of the fiance/ee to the United States. The main requirements are that the USC and the fiancé/ée have seen each other face-to-face within the past 2 years from the date of petition. Once the petition is approved, they must marry within 90 days of the fiancé/ée’s arrival to the United States. After they are married the foreign spouse files the “greencard application” in the United States.
- K3/K4 Marriage Visa: If a United States citizen is married to a foreign national outside of the United States the USC can petition for his/her spouse and the child(ren) of the spouse to enter the U.S. through the K3/K4 visa process. Once the USC and foreign spouse is married the USC files the relative petition with the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). After the USC obtains the receipt of that petition the fiancé visa petition is filed to bring the foreign spouse and child(ren) to the United States quickly. After the foreign spouse and child(ren) come to the United States they file the “greencard application” in the United States.
- Relatives of the United States Citizen (USC) and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR). There are 4 main categories available to United States citizens and 2 main categories available to LPRs to apply for their family member:
- Immediate Relatives: spouse, children under 21, parents of United States citizens. There are no numerical limitations for these individuals. Therefore the process is completed relatively quickly as compared to the other categories. The USC has the option of applying for them while they are in the United States through the “greencard application” or outside of the United States via “Consular Processing”.These categories have numerical limitations and the wait times varies.
- First Preference: Unmarried Sons and Daughters of United States Citizens
- Second Preference: Spouses and Children Under 21 years old, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents:
- Spouses and Children of Lawful Permanent Residents
- Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of LPR.
- Third Preference: Married Sons and Daughters of Citizens
- Fourth Preference: Brothers and Sisters of Adult Citizens: