Family Immigration

Spouses of U.S. citizens or green card holders U.S. citizens as well as green card holders can submit immigrant visa applications for their spouse after getting married. While the spouse of a U.S. citizen can immigrate within a year’s time, the spouses of green card holders should count on up to five years’ wait time, not including processing time. A requirement in both cases is sufficient income on the part of the U.S. citizen spouse. The unmarried children of the applying spouse qualify for a visa at the same time as the main applicant.

Other relatives of green card holders Married children, parents, siblings or other relatives of a green card holder have NO chance to qualify for an immigrant visa. This changes, however, as soon as the green card holder becomes a U.S. citizen, which is possible at the earliest five years after immigrating to the United States.

Relatives of U.S. citizens The following relatives of U.S. citizens may be sponsored for immigration to the United States: parents, children and siblings. The U.S. citizen must be at least 21 years old to submit an immigrant visa petition for his/her parents. The visa is generally issued in less than 12 months. Unmarried children of U.S. citizens under 21 can expect similar processing time. On the other hand, older or married children must usually wait years to receive an immigrant visa. Siblings face the longest wait of all, up to 12 years, not including consular processing time. The reason for this is that the number of visas issued in last two categories (married/older children and siblings) is numerically limited, whereas there is no limit on the number of visas issued to parents or unmarried children under 21 of U.S. citizens.

Adoption of a child U.S. citizens may apply for a visa for an adopted child when 1) the child has been orphaned or irrevocably abandoned, 2) the child has been adopted abroad before the age of 16, and 3) the U.S. citizen parent has lived with the child as their primary caregiver for two years or more. The procedure for orphaned adopted children includes verification of the U.S. citizen petitioner’s suitability as a parent by filing a petition with immigration authorities in the United States, establishment of the child as an orphan through a second petition, and finally, applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate abroad. The entire procedure may take as long as a year.

Fiancé of U.S. Citizen The fiancé or fiancée of a U.S. citizen can qualify for a K-1 visa that allows him/her to immigrate to the United States. The U.S. citizen spouse must submit a petition for a fiancé visa. After the petition is approved, an application for a visa can be submitted at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Important note: the fiancé has six months after the visa is issued to travel to the United States, and the marriage has to occur within 90 days of arrival.