Separation from family members is difficult, especially when the family members are living overseas. It is common for a family member to leave their country for another in search of a better life, with the intention of bringing the rest of their family over once they are settled.
The family-based immigration process makes that possible, but understanding the rules and requirements is important. U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents can sponsor certain family members to come to the United States it they are at least 21 years old.
Immediate relative v. family preference
Once a U.S. citizen is eligible to sponsor a family member to come to the United States, they must choose which type of visa is required in their situation. An immediate relative visa may be obtained for a spouse, parent or child living overseas, while a family preference visa is for other types of family members.
One crucial distinction between the immediate relative visa and the family preference visa is that there is no limit to the number of family members that can be sponsored each year with an immediate relative visa. However, a family preference visa does impose a limit to the number of yearly sponsored relatives.
There is also a difference between which family members a U.S. citizen can file a visa petition for and which ones a lawful permanent resident may file one for. A U.S. citizen may file a petition for their spouse, child, parent, or sibling. Lawful permanent residents may file a petition only for their spouse or child, provided the child is not married.
These are just some of the many rules involved in the family-based immigration process. Even a minor error in a petition, or failure to complete a requirement, can slow or hinder the process. Florida residents hoping to reunite with overseas family members can benefit from a knowledgeable immigration attorney.