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Do you have to wait in line for a family visa?

On Behalf of | Mar 10, 2023 | Family Immigration

Petitioning for a family member to come to the United States is undeniably a long, tedious process. However, the process might be longer or shorter depending on various factors.

This article looks at some of those factors. Specifically, it discusses different family relationships and possible expected wait times for your loved ones’ visas to be available.

Category 1: Close Family Members

Visas for immediate relative of a U.S. citizen have no limit per fiscal year. However, under immigration law, an immediate relative is only a spouse, child under 21, or the parents of U.S. citizens. Because there is no limit to the number of visas that can be issued in this category, there is no waiting for a current priority date as other categories require.

With that in mind, all of the standard procedures must still happen before your family member can receive their immigrant visa or green card. This includes the preparation, submission, and review of all pertinent documents for the case, along with any appeals that might be necessary.

Category 2: Family Preference

Aside from immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, there are number of other family relationships that fall under the preference categories. These other family members include:

  • Unmarried sons or daughters over 21 years old of U.S. citizens
  • Spouses and children under 21 of permanent residents
  • Married sons or daughters of any age of U.S. citizens
  • Brothers or sisters of U.S. citizens

These categories do have limits. Current estimates of wait times are typically available through the Department of State’s monthly visa bulletin. The wait time depends on such factors, including the number and rate of applications in each preference category, the limits set for each year, the numbers left over from other preference categories, and the position of an application in the queue.