Questions About U.S. Family-Based Visas?
What is a U.S. family-based visa?
A family-based visa allows you to join your fiancé(e), spouse, parent or child in the U.S.
What are the different types of visas for family members?
K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa
When a U.S. citizen is engaged to a citizen of another country they can apply for a K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa. This visa allows the Fiancé(e) to enter the U.S. to marry the U.S. citizen. The main purpose of the K-1 visa is for the couple to marry. The marriage must occur within 90 days after the fiancé(e) enters the U.S. Once married, the K-1 visa holder may apply for a U.S. green card (also known as permanent residence).
Learn more about K-1 visa.
K-3 Spouse Visa
K-3 Spouse Visas are for married couples. This visa allows a non-U.S. citizen to join their U.S. citizen spouse in the U.S. while they are waiting for the I-130 Immigrant Petition to be approved.
Learn more about the K-3 visa.
Immediate Relative (IR) Visas
Immediate Relative (IR) Visas are immigrant visas for the spouses, unmarried children and parents of U.S. citizens. IR visas are unlimited, meaning there is no limit on the number of these visas available each year.
Learn more about Immediate Relative Visas.
Family Preference Visas
Family Preference Visas are immigrant visas for relatives of U.S. green card holders (permanent residents) and citizens. Spouses and children of green card holders are eligible for Family Preference Visas. Family Preference Visas are also available for married children and siblings of U.S. citizens.
Family Preference Visas are limited visas, meaning only a certain number are issued each year. Because they are in short supply, there are often backlogs in these visa categories and applicants typically wait months or even years for a visa to become available.
Learn more about Family Preference Visas.
How do I apply for a U.S. visa for a family member?
There are several types of U.S. family visas. There are visas available for fiancé(e)s, spouses, children, parents and siblings of U.S. citizens. There are also visas available for spouses and children of U.S. green card holders.
To qualify you need to be the fiancé(e), spouse, child, parent or sibling of a U.S. green card holder (permanent resident) or U.S. citizen to receive a family-based visa.
If applying for a K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa, immigration requires the U.S. relative file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), along with the other supporting documents or forms. For all other family-based immigrant visas, the U.S. citizen may file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.
If applying for a K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa and the K-3 Spouse Visa, DOS requires you file two of Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application. For all r family-based immigrant visas, you are required to file Form DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa Application. The applicant will need to upload two passport-style photographs with the application.
If you are under the age of 14 or over the age of 79, you may not be required to have an interview.
You will be required to bring the following documents to your visa interview:
- A passport valid for at least six months after the date you plan to leave your home country
- Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application confirmation page
- Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before the interview
- Civil documents (birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc.)
- Affidavit of Support (completed by the U.S. relative)
- A completed medical examination form
The U.S. embassy or consulate where your interview will take place may request you provide additional documentation, such as evidence of:
- Proof of your relationship with your U.S. relative
- Residence records
- Criminal records
The visa interview will take place at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country where you live. A consular officer will determine if you qualify for a visa. The officer will review your documents, visa application. They may also ask you questions about your personal history and why you are coming to the U.S.
If the consular officer approves your visa, they will take your passport and place the visa inside. When your passport and visa are ready, you will be notified to pick it up or you can ask them to send it by mail.
Depending on your nationality, you may have to pay a visa issuance fee if your visa is approved.
How do I extend a family visa?
Typically, family visas don't need to be extended, since permanent residency will be granted after filing for Adjustment of Status, Form I-485. This is because most family visas are immigrant visas, meaning that once you enter the U.S., you will receive permanent resident status (Green Card) and may live in the U.S. indefinitely as a Lawful Permanente Resident.
K-3/K-4 Spouse Visas are nonimmigrant (temporary) visas which may be extended using Form I-539, as long as the marriage-based 1-130 petition or corresponding application for adjustment of status is still pending. In some cases, their status may be extended even if the I-130 has not been filed; however, the applicant will be required to show good cause, such as an illness or job loss, for why the application hasn't been filed.
K-1/K-2 Fiancé(e) Visas are nonimmigrant (temporary) visas which may not be extended. K-1 visas are issued with the requirement that you marry your U.S. citizen spouse within 90 days of your arrival in the U.S. at which point you must apply to adjust your status to permanent resident. If you do not meet this requirement, you must return to your home country.