Family-Based Immigrant Visas

There are two groups of family based immigrant visa categories provided under the provisions of United States immigration law, including immediate relatives and family preference categories. 

An experienced Albuquerque family immigration attorney can advise you on which category to apply for. Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas are unlimited in quantity and are based on a close family relationship with a United States citizen identified as an Immediate Relative. Immediate relative visa types include:

  • IR-1: Spouse of a U.S. Citizen
  • IR-2: Unmarried Child of a U.S. Citizen Under 21 Years of Age
  • IR-3: Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. Citizen
  • IR-4: Orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen
  • IR-5: Parent of a U.S. Citizen who is at least 21 years old

Family Preference Immigrant Visas are limited in quantity each year. These visa types are for more distant relatives of a U.S. citizen and some relatives of a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). The family preference categories are:

  • F1: Family first preference. Includes unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their minor children, if they have any.
  • F2: Family second preference. Includes spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters, age 21 and older, of Lawful Permanent Residents. A minimum of seventy-seven percent of all visas available for this category will go to the spouses and children and the remainder is allocated to unmarried sons and daughters.
  • F3: Family third preference. Includes married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, their spouses, and their minor children.
  • F4: Family fourth preference. Includes brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, their spouses, and their minor children, if the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age.

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Grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and cousins cannot sponsor a relative for immigration in the United States. It is incredibly important to work with a reputable family immigration attorney in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


When the number of qualified applicants for a category exceeds the available immigrant visas, there will be a wait. In this common scenario, the available immigrant visas will be issued in the chronological order in which the petitions were filed, using their priority date. The filing date of a petition will become that applicant’s priority date. Immigrant visas can’t be issued until the priority date is reached. In certain categories, there may be a waiting period of several years before the priority date is reached. Check the Visa Bulletin or consult with your family immigration attorney in Albuquerque, NM for the latest priority dates.

Returning Resident Immigrant Visas

A Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) who has remained outside the U.S. for longer than twelve months will require a new immigrant visa to re-enter the United States and resume their permanent residence. There is a provision under U.S. visa law for issuing a returning resident special immigrant visa to an LPR who remained outside the United States due to circumstances beyond their control. For more information about international travel and returning resident immigrant visas, visit your Albuquerque, NM family immigration attorney.

When you have questions, we’re here for you. Our goal is to keep your family together and to make the process as smooth as possible. We keep you informed about constantly changing laws, and we make sure you receive all legal benefits for which you are eligible.

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U.S. immigration law can be incredibly complex – and for most people, the best course of action is to work with an immigration attorney who understands the process and federal immigration laws.