People around the world interested in immigrating to the United States often are confused and frustrated by the lengthy wait. Today's blog post will explain the wait times for family-based immigrant visa petitions, and the reasons for the sometimes lengthy wait times.
WHAT IS A "PREFERENCE CATEGORY"?
U.S. Immigration laws limit the number of individuals who are permitted to immigrate to the United States each year. The limit, or "cap" as it is known, is different for various types of family relationships and the country from which the individual is immigrating. Immigrant visas for spouses, parents and children (under age 21) are unlimited - in other words, there is no cap for visas based on these relationships. If the person is not the spouse, parent or child of a United States citizen, he or she may still be eligible to immigrate, but would fall within a preference category with its associated cap. Currently, immigration laws provide a cap of 226,000 family-based immigrant visas per fiscal year, and a "per-country" cap of 7 percent of the total visas available per year.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT CATEGORIES OF ELIGIBLE FAMILY-BASED IMMIGRANTS?
The first preference category of family-based immigrants is for unmarried sons/daughers (over age 21) of United States citizens. The second preference category is for spouses, children (under age 21) and unmarried sons/daughters (over age 21) of lawful permanent residents (green card holders). The third preference category is for married sons/daughters (over age 21) of United States citizens. The fourth preference category is for brothers and sisters of United States citizens. The numerical cap within each preference category, the number of immigrant visas applied for within that category, and the country of nationality of the immigrant will determine the length of time the immigrant must wait. Immigrants without one of the above relationships to a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident are not eligible for family-based immigration.
HOW CAN I FIND OUT HOW LONG I HAVE TO WAIT?
The wait times based on the preference categories are calculated and made available to the public by the Department of State. Any interested person can visit www.travel.state.gov and click on the "Visa Bulletin" button to review the current wait times in each of the above preference categories.
If you're interested in pursuing a family-based immigrant visa, it is critical to have competent legal assistance throughout the process. Christiansen Law Firm has assisted thousands of individuals with immigration matters. The attorneys of Christiansen Law Firm can assist you with your family-based immigrant visa petition. Contact the offices of Christiansen Law Firm in Houston or San Antonio for additional information.