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Family preference and immediate relative immigrant visas

Some people who do not initially qualify for an immigrant visa to move to Miami or elsewhere in the United States may rely on a relative to gain permanent resident status and then sponsor them. As the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs explains, the relationship between the sponsor and the family member makes a difference in both the type of family visa petition that should be filed and how easily it may be obtained.

There are a limited number of family preference immigrant visas that are available for close family members of lawful permanent residents and more distant relations of U.S. citizens. Most of these are allocated for family second preference visas. F2 visas are primarily granted to the spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents. A parent may also file a petition for an adult son or daughter who is over the age of 20 and unmarried.

When parents are U.S. citizens, they may file for an F1 visa for their unmarried sons and daughters and their minor children. F3 and F4 visas are reserved for the sons and daughters or brothers and sisters of U.S citizens, as well as their spouses and minor children.

U.S. citizens may file a petition for an immediate relative immigrant visa, which includes spouses, unmarried children aged 20 and younger, and parents of U.S. citizens aged 21 and over. A U.S. citizen also typically qualifies to file a petition for an orphan whom he or she is planning to adopt.

For the purposes of filing an immediate relative immigrant visa, the Bureau of Consular Affairs defines a spouse as a person who is legally wedded or married through common law according to the laws of the country where the couple was married. The marriage must be at least two years old, or else the couple can only file for a conditional resident visa rather than an immediate family visa.

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