U.S. citizens and permanent residents (green card holders) have the right to bring an immediate relative over to live in the U.S., but may be required to wait until a visa is available depending on their status. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) sets the number of immigrant visas that can be distributed each year. The INA sets these limits because of the growing number of visa applications that are sent in. While the waiting period may vary depending on your relationship to this person, if there aren’t enough visas available, your relative will have to wait until an opening presents itself.


To help you better understand how the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues visas, we will explain more in detail below. You are also encouraged to speak with a knowledgeable immigration lawyer in Laredo, TX to become more informed on this process.


Does my family member have to wait to get their visa if I am a U.S. citizen?


If you are a U.S. citizen and want to bring an immediate relative over to live with you in Laredo, TX, these visas are unlimited which means your relative won’t have to have to wait before they can be considered for one. They will, however, be required to go through the traditional visa process before a visa can be issued to them. An immediate relative would include:

  • Your spouse
  • Your children who are under the age of 21 and unmarried
  • Your parents who are at least 21 years old
  • If you are a widow or widower of the U.S. citizen and they filed a petition before their death or you filed the petition within two years of the citizen’s death.


Aside from those conditions, there is a set limit of visas that can be issued and they are given out based on preference categories. These preference categories are explained below:


  • First Preference- Those who are unmarried adult sons or daughters of U.S. citizens get first preference. This means they are 21 years of age or older.


  • Second Preference (2A)- Spouses of green card holders, unmarried children of permanent residents. These children must be under the age of 21.


  • Second Preference (2B)- Unmarried adult sons and daughters of permanent residents.


  • Third Preference- Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. They can be any age to be considered as third preference.


  • Fourth Preference- Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens.


If you want to begin the process of obtaining a green card for a spouse, child, or even a parent, you will need to fill out Form I-130 and submit it to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for processing.  You are required to provide evidence of your relationship to this person so be sure to get gather all the necessary documents. You can also fill out and file Form I-864, Affidavit of Support as an extra step.

If you need help with filing Form I-130 or have a question pertaining to an immigration matter, we will gladly get you connected with a local immigration and deportation lawyer in Laredo, TX now.