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Visa categories for family members: What to know

Do you have family members who want to come to the United States? There are a handful of visa categories specifically set up for this purpose, which are distinctly different from other categories, such as those set up for employment-based immigration. It’s important to know exactly what visa to request based on your current circumstances and relationship.

There are numerous possible visa categories in use for a family member who wishes to immigrate. For example, perhaps the would-be immigrant is the spouse of a citizen of the United States. In that case, the categories are IR1 and CR1. If the person is a spouse who is waiting for the I-130 immigrant petition to get approved, then the category is K-3.

Maybe a couple has not gotten married yet, but they are engaged to be married. If so, the fiance should use the K-1 visa category. This allows them to come to the United States to get married and start a life together.

Adoption issues are also a common reason to apply for a visa. An orphan who gets adopted can use the following categories: IR3, IH3, IR4, IH4.

Family members of some U.S. citizens may need to use the IR2, CR2, IR5, F1, F3 or F4 categories, while family members of those who are not citizens but lawful permanent residents may want to use the F2A or the F2B.

The immigration process is complex, and getting every last detail right is crucial to success. Whether you’re trying to immigrate yourself or trying to help a family member come to the U.S. to reunite your family through immigration, make sure you know all the legal steps you need to take.