Family-Based Immigration

Family unification is one of the main principles governing immigration policy.  The family-based immigration category allows U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents to bring specific family members to the United States. Family-based immigrants are admitted either as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens or through the family preference system.

Immediate relatives are:

  • spouses of U.S. citizens;
  • unmarried minor children of U.S. citizens (under 21-years-old); and
  • parents of U.S. citizens (petitioner must be at least 21-years-old to petition for a parent).

Immigrants falling under the immediate relatives’ category must meet certain eligibility requirements, and petitioners must meet certain age and financial requirements.

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The preference system includes:

  • adult children (married and unmarried) and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens (petitioner must be at least 21-years-old to petition for a sibling), and
  • spouses and unmarried children (minor and adult) of Legal Permanent Residents.

Employment-Based Immigration
The United States offers several ways for immigrants with valuable skills to come to the country on either a permanent or a temporary basis.

Temporary Visa Classifications
Temporary employment-based visa classifications allow employers to hire and petition for foreign nationals for specific jobs for limited periods. Most temporary workers must work for the employer that petitioned for them and have limited ability to change jobs. There are more than 20 types of visas for temporary non-immigrant workers. These include L-1 visas for inter-company transfers; various P visas for athletes, entertainers, and skilled performers; R-1 visas for religious workers; various A visas for diplomatic employees; O-1 visas for workers of extraordinary ability; and various H visas for both highly-skilled and lesser-skilled employment. The visa classifications vary in terms of their eligibility requirements, duration, whether they permit workers to bring dependents, and other factors. In most cases, they must leave the United States if their status expires or if their employment is terminated.