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Of the two major types of immigrant visas-family based and employment based-the first one is treated most preferentially by the United States government. As evidence of this, consider the fact that there is no yearly limit on the number of visas available to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. Even for those categories of individuals whose visas are subject to annual quotas, there are almost twice as many visas available as there are for immigration based on employment. The unlimited category of family immigration visas is the Immediate Relative visa, of which there are five subcategories-each of these is labeled as IR-1, IR-2, etc.


Immediate relative visas are available for those who have the following relationships to U.S. citizens:

  • Spouses

  • Unmarried Children Under 21 Years of Age

  • Orphans Adopted Abroad

  • Orphans to Be Adopted Upon Arrival in the U.S.

  • Parents of Citizens Over the Age of 21 Years


There are additionally four categories of Family Preference immigrant visas. The Immigration and Nationality Act allocates approximately 226,000 visas for individuals in this category on an annual basis.


These include the following:

  • Unmarried Children of U.S. Citizens and Their Minor Children

  • Spouses, Minor Children and Unmarried Adult Children of Lawful Permanent Residents

  • Siblings of Adult U.S. Citizens, and Their Spouses and Minor Children

Before the foreign national can apply for a family immigration visa, his or her relative in the U.S. must file a sponsorship petition, Form I-130. Once this has been approved, the prospective immigrant may apply for the visa at the local U.S. Consulate or Embassy. In the event that the yearly quota for a family preference visa has been met, the applicant will be assigned a priority date and will be given a visa in the following year.

Los Angeles immigration attorney David M. Haghighi can assist those involved in family based immigration, including both the sponsoring family member and the relative living abroad. We have extensive experience with the immigration legal system, and as immigrants we understand how anxious you may be to reunite with your loved ones.

Contact us for a free initial consultation to discuss your situation and learn how we may be able to help you achieve your goals.

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