Family Based Immigration

The process of family based immigration can get quite complicated, even when there are only a few parties involved. A typical case can involve a United States citizen or a legal permanent resident (LPR) sponsoring alien relatives, known as “beneficiaries”. Citizens and permanent residents must testify to being able to provide certain obligations in order to sponsor family members.

The rules governing who can be a sponsor, who can be a beneficiary, how parties can petition for redress, and so on can get frightfully complicated, even for straightforward cases. Family immigration is basically divided into two different groups: first, immediate relatives and second, family preference categories.

Immediate Relative Visa Types:

  • IR-1: spouse of a U.S. citizen
  • IR-2: children under the age of 21 (unmarried) of a U.S. citizen
  • IR-3: children adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen
  • IR-4: children adopted in the U.S. from abroad by a U.S. citizen
  • IR-5: the parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old

Family Preference Categories:

  • Family First Preference (F1): unmarried children of official US citizens.
  • Family Second Preference (F2): children and spouses of lawful permanent residents (LPR).
  • Family Third Preference (F3): the married children of U.S. citizens and their spouses and children.
  • Family Fourth Preference (F4): brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens and their spouses and children.


Adding to the complexity is the fact that classifications can be fluid. For instance, a sponsor can gain or lose legal permanent residence status during the course of an application for immigration, and this in turn can impact how and when family members can come into the United States. There are also only a certain number of visas allotted to each category per year. If there are no visas available, the immigrant has to wait.

We at the Law Offices of Eliana Phelps have a vast amount of experience dealing with family based immigration matters. Whether you’re simply petitioning for an alien relative to come to the US and you are having trouble with your Form I-130, or you’re involved in a complex family situation that can’t be easily resolved simply by looking at the FAQs on the United States Citizen and Immigration Services website, we can untangle your situation and provide you with the best course forward.

Family Immigration Services

We offer free case evaluations, and our family immigration attorneys are both sympathetic and deeply familiar with how the family based immigration rules work. Please browse our web site to learn more about what kind of services we offer or contact us now by clicking the advice box below. Let us help you make the smart decisions you need to make to reunify your family and support your new life here in the United States.

Call the Law Offices of Phelps Attorneys today to discuss your case!


Eliana Phelps