U.S. Visas for Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens
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Immediate Relatives



Visas for Immediate Relatives

(U.S. Visas for Parents, Spouses & Fiancées of U.S. Citizens)


FAMILY BASED IMMIGRATION – It is not a secret that U.S. Immigration policy strongly favors granting permanent resident status (“Green Card”) to close relatives of U.S. Citizens. One of the most common ways for an alien  to immigrate in the U.S. is as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen. Spouses and unmarried children of U.S. Citizens and in some cases of U.S. Permanent Residents (Green Card Holders) have a preferred route to immigrating in the U.S. This most commonly takes the form of a U.S. citizen petitioning for his or her spouse (i.e. immigration “through marriage”) or minor children on what is known as form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.


“Immediate Relatives” is therefore a term of art and Immediate Relative in the Immigration context have several advantages over other categories of would-be immigrants: if they are in the United States AND THEY ENTERED WITH PROPER DOCUMENTS they can file for “Adjustment of Status” without traveling back to their home country.  The Adjustment of status application can normally be filed concurrently with the immigrant petition on their behalf, thereby substantially reducing the wait time for visa issuance. In most cases, the alien spouse can obtain employment authorization pending adjudication of the petition. Prior periods of unlawful presence or unauthorized employment, which normally constitute grounds for inadmissibility, may normally be overcome.

Even in cases where Adjustment of Status is not possible, regulations are now in place to allow, in most cases, for Stateside Provisional Waivers request before the alien travels back home to obtain his or her green card at the local consulate. Please consult an expert Immigration Lawyer / Visa Lawyer if you think that this category may apply to you.

In some cases, especially where the spouse entered the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa (for example on a B-2 visa or F-1 visa or J-1 visa) or on a Visa Waiver / ESTA entry, particular attention must be given to the amount of time lapsed from the entry and the Application for Adjustment of Status, as well as the statements rendered upon entry at the port of entry upon inspection and admission. The issue is one of “preconceived intent” a.k.a. whether or not the applicant could be found to have harbored a preconceived intent to immigrate to the U.S. and therefore rendered false or misleading statements. As usual, we strongly advise to consult with a skilled immigration attorney on this or any other issue discussed on this web site before you make any immigration or visa decisions.


If the alien fiancee’  is abroad, and the couple have met in person in the past two years, it may e possible to have the non-citizen fiancee’  travel to the United States on a K-1 visa for fiancee’s of U.S. citizens.


If the marriage has already taken place or is going to take place abroad,  a choice must be made between filing an immigrant visa petition for the alien spouse and requesting consular processing in the spouse’s home country, or applying for a K-3 visa to allow for immediate entry into the U.S. and then filing the immediate relative petition and requesting adjustment of the alien’s status to permanent resident of the U.S.


Sometimes, these options can be pursued at the same time.  In most cases, it will be necessary for the U.S. citizen to file an affidavit of support and to produce financial records. Please see our page on affidavit of support issues.


If you are married to or intend to marry a U.S. citizen and immigrate to the U.S., or if you are a U.S. citizen with an foreign resident spouse or fiancee’, there are excellent chances that we can assist you.


If you are currently in the U.S., and ENTERED THROUGH INSPECTION you should be able to adjust your status to that of a legal permanent resident without traveling back to your home country.    If you entered the U.S. without inspection, a waiver of this ground of inadmissibility may be available to you. Please see our page on waivers.


As immigration lawyers, we frequently deal with very difficult, sometimes heart-wrenching situations that could have been easily avoided with a moderate amount of initial planning and professional assistance. Do not be one of those clients who comes to us after the problem arise. Do it right the first time and you will receive much more than you will be paying for in terms of our legal fees. You will never know what you missed and you may even think that the immigration process is easy, but you will never regret not knowing how difficult it can be if it is not done right.