Family Based Immigration Visas

Silver Spring, MD Family-Immigration Visa Lawyer


If you are a U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident with relatives living in other countries, certain members of your family may qualify for a family-based immigrant visa. Family unification is an important goal for U.S. immigration law. However, there are restrictions on which family members you can petition and different preference categories for each qualified member. In addition, outside of the standard family-based green cards, there are other programs that apply to individuals from certain countries and/or under specific circumstances. To understand all your family-based immigration options, it is important to speak with an experienced immigration attorney.

For several years, Law Offices of Tina Sharma has helped re-unite U.S. Citizens and green card holders with relatives living abroad through family-based immigrant visas. Our founder, attorney Tina Sharma, is a first generation immigrant who also adopted her son from India. Attorney Sharma has extensive professional (as well as personal) experience with the complexities of family-based green card applications, and she understands what it takes to ensure a positive outcome in your case. Her in-depth knowledge of immigration law and dedication to helping bring immigrant families together helps set us apart and gives our clients the confidence they will receive the skilled guidance and representation they deserve.


Family-Based Petition Categories

There are two general categories for family-based immigrant visas:

Immediate Relative: There are an unlimited number of green cards available each year for family members of U.S. Citizens who qualify as immediate relatives. Individuals in this category include:

  • Spouses of U.S. Citizens — this includes recent widows, widowers and same-sex couples whose marriage is legally recognized in the country in which it took place;
  • Unmarried children of U.S. Citizens under age 21;
  • Parents of U.S. Citizen children age 21 and older;
  • Stepchildren and stepparents if the marriage establishing the stepparent/child relationship occurred before the child turned 18;
  • Children adopted by U.S. Citizens abroad before the child’s 16th birthday;
  • Orphans under age 16 awaiting adoption by a U.S. Citizen parent.

Family Preference: Family members who do not qualify as immediate relatives may qualify to apply for a green card in one of four family preference categories. There are annual limits for each category, and waiting lists can be extensive depending on the category you are in and the country you are coming from. The preference categories are as follows:

  • First Preference: Unmarried children of U.S. Citizens over age 21.
  • Second Preference: Spouses and unmarried children under age 21 of legal permanent residents (2A) and unmarried children of legal permanent residents over age 21 (2B).
  • Third Preference: Married children (of any age) of U.S. Citizens.
  • Fourth Preference: Siblings of U.S. Citizens where the Citizen is over age 21.

Other Family-Based Immigration Options

There are several other potential avenues for bringing relatives from abroad into the U.S. Some of the most common include:

Fiancé Visas: A fiancé visa is technically a non-immigrant visa issued for the purpose of bringing your fiancé into the United States to get married. The marriage must occur within 90 days of entry, at which time you may apply for adjustment of status to a family-based green card.

V-Visas: The Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act of 2000 made available V visas for spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents who had a green card applied for on their behalf on or before December 21, 2000.

Family Reunification Programs: There are various family reunification programs that apply to individuals of certain nationalities and under specific circumstances.

These include:

  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
  • Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA)
  • Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) Program
  • Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee/Parole Program

Immigration law, and particularly family-based immigration law is updated frequently. At Law Offices of Tina Sharma, we stay continually up-to-date on all the latest changes to the law, so we can provide you access to any and all potential avenues to bringing your family together in America. For an in-depth analysis of your case, contact us today at (202) 329-6556 for a personalized consultation.

Law Offices of Tina Sharma provides skilled assistance with family-based immigration visas throughout the country including in the Washington, D.C. metro area, Virginia and Maryland; including the communities of Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas, Annandale, Springfield, Herndon, Reston, Rockville, Gaithersburg, Silver Spring, College Park, Germantown, Frederick, Hyattsville, Bowie, Annapolis, Fairfax County, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County.

Contact our office today.