Based on a policy of family unification, U.S. immigration law awards immigration visas based upon family relationships. Immigration visas for family members of U.S. residents are divided into two categories. The first is the “Immediate Relative” immigrant visa category. The second is “Family Preference” immigrant visa category.

Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas: Immediate Relative visas are available to immigrants who are either:

  • Spouses;
  • Children under 21 years of age;
  • Adopted orphans; or
  • Parents

of United States citizens who are at least 21 years old. There are not any limits on the number of Immediate Relative visas awardable in a given year.

Family Preference Immigrant Visas: Family Preference visas are available to immigrants who are:

  • Unmarried children of U.S. citizens who are older than 21 and their minor children;
  • Spouses, minor children, and unmarried older children of Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs);
  • Married sons and daughter of U.S. citizens, as well as their spouses and children; and
  • Siblings of U.S. citizens and their minor children, provided the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years old.

The United States sets a fiscal year limit on the number of Family Preference visas it will grant, and most of these are allocated to the spouses and minor children of LPRs. Since the number of individuals eligible to receive Family Preference visas often exceeds the available number of visas, there is often a waiting period for those who apply. Such visas are issued in the chronological order in which the visa petitions were submitted by the visa applicant’s U.S. sponsor. Certain categories contain many more approved petitions than available visas. Consequently, there may be a waiting period of several years or more, before the visa is issued.


The legal advocates of Bushell & Widdison believe that nothing is more important than family. As immigration attorneys, we witness the damage caused by harsh immigration laws that separate and divide family relationships on a daily basis. Having families of our own, we are driven by the desire to reverse this cruel reality by serving those who want nothing more than to be together with their family and loved-ones. 

Obtaining an immigration visa based upon familial relationships is a very complicated and complex process. The copious amounts of requirements and supporting documents that must be submitted to USCIS makes the process intimidating and causes many to be dismayed. In addition, the process can become more complicated based on the type of visa being sought and if, while the family-based visa application is pending, the U.S. sponsor adjusts his or her status from an LPR to a U.S. citizen by becoming a naturalized citizen of the U.S. 

The immigration attorneys of Bushell & Widdison are eager to unite you and your loved-ones by undertaking the necessary work to make sure that the family-based immigration process runs smoothly and that the legal requirements are met without undue delay, frustration, or confusion. We strive to ensure that you and your family remain united in the U.S. and we do everything we can to meet this goal.

The family-based immigration visa application process often requires reading and translating foreign documents and communication with foreign officials. Every Bushell & Widdison immigration attorney is fluent in Spanish, making the process much easier and your experience much less stressful as you remain informed and updated with your immigration advocate at Bushell & Widdison. 

If you or someone you know needs assistance obtaining a family-based immigration visa for your relative(s), please contact us today.