The U.S. provides visas to immigrants through what are known as family sponsored immigration visas. These visas, considered family-based immigrant visas, are available to those who meet the criteria. Family-based visas fall into two main categories: immediate relative immigrant visas and family preference visas. Each type is designed for a specific purpose and has eligibility requirements that allow you to qualify. The process of getting immigration visas can be somewhat complicated, so it may be helpful to get help from a qualified immigration attorney to guide you through the correct procedures.

Immediate Relative Visas

The immediate relative (IR) visa is available for close family members of a U.S. citizen, such as a child, spouse, or parent. There are different categories of IR visas including:

  • IR-1 – The Spouse of a United States Citizen
  • IR-2 – An Unmarried Child of U.S. Citizen
  • IR-3 – An Adopted Child of a U.S. Citizen (Adopted Abroad)
  • IR-4 – A Child Who Will Be Adopted by a U.S. Citizen
  • IR-5 – The Parent of a U.S. Citizen

Those who do not meet these situational requirements may be able to apply for a Family Visa instead.

Family Preference Visas

A limited number of family visas are available each year. There are four main categories of family visas including:

  • F1 – Family 1st Preference – Unmarried children of citizens of the United States
  • F2 – Family 2nd Preference – Spouse, or unmarried child of a lawful permanent resident (LPR)
  • F3 – Family 3rd Preference – Married children of U.S. citizens, and their spouses
  • F4 – Family 4th Preference – Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, their spouses, and children.

Family visas are provided per allotment of each type of preference. Once the allotment has been exceeded, applicants must wait. Visas are issued in order, based on filing date. Therefore, it is important to submit the application as early as possible.

Filing for Family Sponsored Visas

The relative who is sponsoring the immigrant must submit a Form I-130, and necessary fee, to the USCIS Department of Homeland Security. The sponsor must meet criteria, including being at a minimum a permanent residence in the United States. Supporting documents must be submitted when requested. An affidavit of support form, civil documents, passport, and medical exam form are all required as part of the process. When approved, the applicant must attend an interview. Once the interview is successfully completed, a visa will be granted. The family immigration visa procedure can be complex. It is often best to ensure that the procedures are properly followed with the assistance of a skilled Arizona immigration attorney.


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Family Sponsored Immigration Visas, or other Immigration Law matters, please feel free to contact Phil D. Ortega at  480.461.5330, log on to,  or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.