A simple guide to applying for family-based visas

On Behalf of | May 8, 2024 | Immigration Law |

Applying for a family-based visa is an important step for families wishing to reunite in the United States. It involves several steps but is fairly straightforward.

It is helpful to understand the necessary steps and documentation required.

1. Check eligibility

First, determine if the applicant qualifies for a family-based visa. U.S. citizens can petition for spouses, children, parents and siblings, while permanent residents can petition only for spouses and unmarried children.

2. File the petition and pay the fees

A U.S. citizen or permanent resident must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to prove their relationship with the family member who wants the visa. You must pay a fee when you submit Form I-130, the amount of which depends on your specific situation.

3. Gather documents

Submit all required documents with Form I-130. These typically include proof of the petitioner’s citizenship or permanent resident status, proof of a legal familial relationship (like marriage or birth certificates), and evidence of any legal name changes.

4. Attend the biometrics appointment

If required, you may need to attend a biometrics appointment to provide fingerprints and photographs. USCIS uses this information to conduct background checks.

5. Wait for a decision

After you submit your application and documents, USCIS will begin processing the information. USCIS may request additional information or documents. Respond promptly to these requests to avoid delays in the processing of the visa application. After processing the petition, they will send you a decision.

If the petition is approved, it moves to the National Visa Center for further processing. If denied, the notice will explain why and provide information on whether you can appeal the decision.

6. Complete the visa application

Once the NVC receives the approved petition, they will request that you submit a visa application form and additional documentation and later schedule an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate.

7. Get a medical exam

Before the interview, you must undergo a medical examination by an approved physician and receive any required vaccinations.

8. Go to the interview

During the interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate, a consular officer will ask questions about the relationship and eligibility to decide if you are eligible for the family-based visa.

9. Get your visa

If the interview goes well, the consular officer will issue your visa and you are now eligible to travel to the United States.

As you can see, the application process for a family-based visa is not as daunting as it first appears, but you may want assistance to make sure you fill everything out correctly. Following this guide can make it easier for families to come together in the United States.