Family-Based Visas


A Family-Based Visa allows family members or relatives of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents (LPRs) to get a green card in the U.S. This requires both a sponsor (a relative in the US) and a beneficiary (a relative outside the US). Spouses or children of the beneficiary may be able to qualify as derivative beneficiaries.


The relationship between sponsor and beneficiary must fall into one of two categories in order to qualify for a FB visa:

Immediate Relative

IR1: Spouse of a US citizen

IR2: Unmarried child (under 21) of a US citizen

IR3: Orphan adopted abroad by a US citizen

IR4: Orphan to-be-adopted in the US by a US citizen

IR5: Parent of a US citizen (over 21)


The Immediate Relative category has an unlimited number of visa spots, meaning it’s generally both easier and faster to get.

Family Preference

F1: Unmarried adult child of US citizen (over 21)

F2A: Spouse/Unmarried child (under 21) of LPR

F2B: Unmarried adult child (over 21) of LPR

F3: Married child (any age) of US citizen

F4: Siblings of adult US citizens (over 21)


The Family Preference category, however, has a numerical annual cap on visas, meaning its harder and slower to get.

Application Process

Step One: Form I-130

The FB Visa application process starts with the sponsor (either a US citizen or LPR) filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. The form demonstrates to the government a valid familial relationship through either the Immediate Relative or Family Preference category. Upon filing Form I-130, you will receive a Receipt Number to check your case status. Processing Times for Immediate Relatives have almost no wait time, while Family Preference categories can go from 1 to 10 years of waiting. When a visa spot opens up, the beneficiary will then be notified, and they can continue on to the next step.

Step Two: Filing for a Green Card

At this point, the beneficiary then has to petition for a green card. Beneficiaries outside of the US will apply through Consular Processing, while a beneficiary inside the US will usually apply through Adjustment of Status (AOS).

Consular Processing


Form DS-260 (App. for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration)

Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support)

Adjustment of Status

Eligibility Requirements

(a) Currently inside the United States

(b) Legally entered the United States


Form I-485 (App. to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status)

Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative)

Form I-130A (Biographic Information) – if spousal relationship

Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support)

Form I-693 (Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record)

Biometric Screening appointment at USCIS App. Support Center

Step Three: Interview

Finally, both Consular Processing and AOS applicants will attend an interview. For CPs, it will dictate if the beneficiary is eligible for a visa. For AOS applicants, the interview is quick and simply acts a way to confirm the information you provided.

Step Four: Green Card

CP applicants will be handed a “Visa Packet” at the interview, which they hand to the Customs and Border Protection upon entering the United States. They will then be mailed their green card. AOS applicants will be mailed a green card after the interview, if they were selected.

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