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Persons who are U.S. citizens or green card holders can offer sponsorship to certain members of their family who want to immigrate and be permanent residents in Illinois. There are two primary types of Wheaton family visa categories, and several preference groups within those, so it can be a complicated system to understand.

If you need help understanding how to apply for a green card or want information on sponsoring a family member in their moving process, reach out to a knowledgeable immigration attorney who can answer your questions and determine if you are eligible to seek permanent residency in the United States.

Family Preference Visas

The first main type of family visa category in Wheaton is for family preference immigrants. Certain family members of legal permanent residents or U.S. citizens may qualify for a Family Preference visa if they do not qualify for an Immediate Relative visa. There are five groups within the Family Preference Visa category:

  • First preference (F1 visa)
  • Second preference (F2A and F2B visas)
  • Third preference (F3 visas)
  • Fourth preference (F4 visa).

A U.S. citizen wishing to sponsor their child who is not married and at least 21 years of age into the country may apply them for an F1 visa. F2A visas are specifically reserved for a husband, wife, or child of a green cardholder. If the child of a green card holder is applying for an F2A visa, they must be 20 or younger and not married. A child of a green card holder who is older than 20 and not married may apply for an F2B visa. While F3 visas are reserved for married children of residents, a sibling of a U.S. citizen would need to apply for an F4 visa to pursue legal immigration.

There are annual limits on the number of family preference visas that can be issued in each category. For this reason, applying for a green card through the preference system is typically a lengthier process than if the applicant is an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen and is seeking permanent residency.

Immediate Relative Family Visas in Wheaton

There are fairly stringent limitations on the family connection an applicant must have a sponsor to apply for an Immediate Relative family visa. Individuals who may pursue lawful permanent residency as an immediate relative include the parent, husband, wife, or child (aged 20 or younger) of a U.S. citizen. Anyone else who is seeking a family-based residency but does not fall into one of these classifications must go through the Family Preference visa application process.

Standard Wait Times for Relative Visas

Due to the quota imposed for each type of Family Preference visa, the wait time before an immigrant could receive a green card can be several years or longer. Another reason the wait time is longer is that, besides the mandatory caps on residency issued in each group, there are also caps on the visas granted to applicants from certain countries in a given year.

Depending on the country the individual is seeking to immigrate from, their wait time could be longer. On the other hand, obtaining an Immediate Relative family visa usually has a much shorter wait time and typically takes around 12 months from start to finish.

Ask a Wheaton Attorney About Family Visa Categories

An immigration attorney can advise whether you or a close relative may be eligible to seek permanent residency in the U.S. through one of the Wheaton family visa categories. For more information about your immigration or green card options, contact our office today and ask to speak with a local lawyer.

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