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Who qualifies for family-based immigration?

| Nov 25, 2019 | Firm News

The easiest way to obtain a visa to immigrate to Florida and the U.S. is through family-based immigration, according to the National Immigration Forum. Per U.S. law, lawful permanent residents and U.S. citizens can sponsor family members for a visa, or “green card,” that grants permanent residency. Though immigration has always been family-based, it was not until 1965 that Congress enacted the Immigration and Nationality Act. This act officially made family ties the easiest route to residency. In 1990, Congress further dedicated 480,000 visas each fiscal year to family-based immigration. If you hope to use one or more of the available family visas, you may wonder who qualifies or, more specifically, which persons constitute “family members.” 

Only two groups of people are eligible for family visas: Immediate relatives and family-preference. The immediate relatives category is fairly straightforward. Immediate relatives include spouses of U.S. citizens, parents of U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years of age, unmarried children under the age of 21, orphans whom U.S. citizens wish to adopt and orphans a citizen or soon-to-be citizen adopted abroad. 

Who is eligible under the family preference category is less clear-cut. Legal permanent residents may sponsor spouses, unmarried sons and daughters over the age of 18 and minor children. U.S. citizens may sponsor married sons and daughters and/or children who are over the age of 21, as well as their minor children and spouses. Citizens may also sponsor siblings, their minor children and their spouses, provided the citizen is at least 21-years-old. 

There is no limit to the number of family members you may sponsor. However, Congress likes to ensure every migrant family has the opportunity to sponsor loved ones, so every sponsorship reduces the 480,000 annual cap by one. Most U.S. citizens, though, sponsor an average of 3.5 relatives, which include spouses and children. 

You should not use this article as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only. 

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