There are only two groups who are eligible for U.S. family visas:
- Immediate relatives: 1) spouses of U.S. citizens; 2) unmarried children under 21 of U.S. citizens; 3) orphans adopted abroad, 4) orphans to be adopted in the U.S., by U.S. citizens; and 5) parents of U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old.
- Family preference categories: 1) unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, their spouses and their children; 2) spouses, minor children and unmarried sons and daughters over 21 of LPRs; 3) married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their spouses and minor children and 4) brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years old.
In Canada, the following groups are eligible for Canadian family visas:
- Spouses; Common-law partners; conjugal partners; dependent children; parents; grandparents; siblings, nephew, niece, grandchild, cousin, aunt and uncle. There is specific criteria that both the prospective sponsor and family member must meet in order to be eligible to start the process.
A family law attorney can assist clients with family-based immigration petitions and necessary support documentation for a family visa in the United States or Canada.
In the U.S., generally after USCIS approves the petition, they forward it to the National Visa Center (NVC), which directs the applicant to complete certain forms and submit appropriate documents and pay the fees. Once the NVC receives all the required documents, a U.S. Embassy or Consulate officer interviews the applicant to determine his or her eligibility.
In Canada, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will acknowledge receipt of the Canada Immigration Application and may request more documents. Afterwards, there may be an interview or a waiver of interview.
In the U.S. and Canada, all applicants must also undergo a medical examination performed by an authorized physician and obtain certain vaccinations before the government will issue the visa.
An attorney at The Bobb Law Firm PLLC who has family-based immigration experience can be of great assistance to clients that wish to bring their families together in America/Canada, to become legal residents of the United States or Canada.
While immediate relatives (spouses and minor children) generally receive their green cards/Canadian Permanent Resident cards relatively soon after meeting all the criteria of the extensive visa process, the wait time for other family members may vary from years to decades, based on their family preference category. It is important to have the assistance of an experienced immigration law attorney familiar with immigration law at The Bobb Law Firm PLLC who can monitor stalled processing of visa applications for their clients.