Some Illinois residents are working to bring their family members and relatives to join them in the United States. There are two major groups of visa categories for family-based immigrants, including family preference options and immediate relatives. Eligibility for these different visa types can vary, and understanding the choices available can help people to determine the right application to file.

Immediate relative immigrant visas are not subjected to a numerical limitation each year. These are based on each applicant’s close family relationship with a U.S. citizen. There are several different types of immediate relative visas, including those for spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, orphans adopted abroad, orphans adopted in the U.S., and parents of U.S. citizens who are 21 and older. Unlike immediate relative visas, family preference category immigrant visas are for people with other specific family relationships with a U.S. citizen or, in some cases, a permanent resident or green card holder. These are subjected to numerical limitations every fiscal year, so there can be significant delays of several years or more for these applications. Applications for family-based preference visas are handled in the order they were filed.

There are several types of family preference visas, including for adult, unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their minor children. Spouses, minor children and unmarried adult children of permanent residents fall into another family preference category. A third category includes married children of U.S. citizens and their minor children, and a fourth is for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens along with their spouses and minor children.

Navigating the family immigration process can be confusing for many people who want to ensure that they provide correct and complete information. An immigration law attorney may help clients to gather relevant documents, file a petition and support their applications.