If you have relatives living abroad and you would like to help them gain entry to the United States by virtue of your status as a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), you potentially have a few different options available. These options vary depending upon the specific familial relationship and certain other factors (such as whether your loved one is married), and there are limits on the number of family-based visas that the U.S. Department of State will issue each year.

Family-based visas for immediate relatives (FB-1, FB-2, FB-3, FB-4) are immigrant visas that can ultimately provide a path to citizenship. However, becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen is a multi-step process, and starting the process begins with successfully completing the requirements to obtain a family-based visa. Depending on your relationship with the family member you are seeking to sponsor, this will typically mean filing one or more of the following forms:

  • Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
  • Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
  • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support

Family Based Visas For Immediate Relatives  

Family members who are eligible to sponsor visa applications in the family-based immigration (“FB”) category include spouses, parents and siblings. If your child or sibling has a spouse or child, you may be eligible to sponsor his or her application as well. Otherwise, grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and cousins are not eligible to sponsor their relatives for immigration.

Family-based (“FB”) visas that can be used to begin the immigration process for immediate family members include:

  • Family-Based First Preference (FB-1)– The FB-1 visa is available to unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their minor children. The U.S. Department of State issues 23,400 FB-1 visas each year.
  • Family-Based Second Preference (FB-2)– The FB-2 visa is available to spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of lawful permanent residents. The U.S. Department of State issues 114,200 FB-2 visas each year, with at least 77 percent allocated to unmarried sons and daughters.
  • Family-Based Third Preference (FB-3)– The FB-3 visa is available to married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their spouses and minor children. The U.S. Department of State issues 23,400 FB-3 visas each year.
  • Family-Based Fourth Preference (FB-4)– The FB-4 visa is available to brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens and their spouses and minor children, provided the sponsor is at least 21 years of age. The U.S. Department of State issues 65,000 FB-4 visas each year.

If your loved one does not fall into any of these categories, you may be eligible to sponsor him or her for a different type of immigrant or non-immigrant visa. Learn more about other types of family visas.

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