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If you are a legal resident or citizen of the United States, you are likely eligible to sponsor a family member’s immigration to the U.S. from abroad. However, the sponsorship process is slightly different—and may be more complicated—depending on whether you want to bring an immediate relative or a more distant family member into the U.S.

Unlike immediate relative visas, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) limits the number of family preference visas made available each year. To learn the rules and regulations for family preference visas in San Diego, reach out to our legal team at the Hacking Law Practice, LLC. A qualified immigration lawyer can explain all the relevant information in detail during a private consultation.

Preference Categories for Family Visas

Because family preference visas are limited, there may be a lengthy waiting period to get one. The odds of an individual sponsor in San Diego obtaining this type of visa on a family member’s behalf may also depend on what preference category their relative falls into.

Under current USCIS regulations, there are four categories of family preference visas corresponding to different types of familial relationships. These categories are listed below in order of highest to lowest priority:

  • F1: for a U.S. citizen’s unmarried child, as well as any minor children of the prospective visa recipient
  • F2: for a U.S. citizen’s spouse and unmarried or minor children
  • F3: for a U.S. citizen’s married child, who may also bring their spouse and/or minor children with them if applicable
  • F4: for a U.S. citizen’s sibling of age 21 or older, as well as that sibling’s spouse and minor children if applicable

Spouses, unmarried minor children, and parents of U.S. citizens are eligible for immediate relative visas. Grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and other relations are not eligible for family preference visas in San Diego.

Family Visa Application Procedures for San Diego Residents

The first step to applying for any category of family preference visa is filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. The purpose of this form is to establish the familial relationship between the prospective visa recipient and their sponsor. A person must maintain primary residence in the United States and be at least 21 years old to sponsor a parent or sibling, or at least 18 years old to sponsor any other family member.

If USCIS approves the submitted Form I-130, the agency will assign what is known as a “priority date.” This date must become “current” before the prospective recipient can apply for an immigrant visa or an Adjustment of Status if they are already in the United States. Unfortunately, because of the backlog of family preference visa applications in San Diego and across the country, it can often take months for Form I-130 to be processed and several years to reach a conclusion. However, working with our dedicated law firm could help ensure that the application process proceeds as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

Consult an Attorney on Family Preference Visas in San Diego

Obtaining a visa on behalf of non-immediate family members can be a lengthy and stressful process. Those without the legal background and experience in the immigration system may struggle to achieve a positive outcome. If you are pursuing family preference visas in San Diego, consult one of our knowledgeable lawyers to help increase your chances of success. Get in touch today to discuss your unique situation.

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