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Sponsoring family members for immigration visas

Florida residents may be interested in immigration visa requirements for family members. Family-based visas depend on the relationship the petitioner has with the individual, and whether the petitioner is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. Immigration law differentiates between immediate family and remote family in terms of limitations on the visas allowed each year. Priority status is different based on whether the sponsor is an LPR or a U.S citizen.

For instance, U.S. citizens may petition for family immigration visas for immediate relatives. These include a spouse, unmarried child under 21, adopted children and parents. Priority is different at each level with a spouse having the greatest priority. Parents are a lower priority, but immigration visas for immediate relatives are unlimited. Relatives that are more distant do have immigration limits on the annual number of visas.

Sponsors must file a petition with the immigration services at the Department of Homeland Security. The next step is filling out Form DS-261, which provides an address where the applicant may be reached and provides information for the applicant's agent, who will speak for the applicant. This person may be the sponsor or an immigration attorney. If the applicant has retained an attorney, this form may be bypassed. Supporting documentation includes a passport, affidavit of support, two photographs, other documents such as marriage and birth certificates and a medical exam report. Fees are assessed and must be paid in advance.

Having an immigration attorney who may guide the sponsor and applicant through the process is helpful. Furthermore, the attorney serving as an agent may be able to answer questions from the NVC.

Source: U.S. Department of State, "Family-Based Immigrant Visas", December 17, 2014

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