Your journey towards reuniting with your family after immigrating (and possibly naturalizing) in the United States depends largely on their ability to get a visa. Given the complexities associated with this process (and the relative lack of visas available compared to the number of those wanting to enter the country), you may have concerns about this happening in a timely manner.
Yet not to worry; one of the foundational principles of U.S. immigration policy is family reunification. Thus, laws exist to facilitate this process (chief among them being the Immigration and Nationality Act).
Visa availability for immediate family members
Per the American Immigration Council, the INA mandates the allotment of at least 226,000 visas for family immigration purposes. Family-based immigration quotas stipulate who gets those visas (and in what order).
For example, if you have an immediate relative looking to come to the U.S. (and you are a naturalized U.S. citizen), they have access to an unlimited number of visas earmarked for this purpose. in the context of this particular program, an “immediate relative” is a spouse, parent or unmarried minor child.
Quotas for other relatives
After considering visa numbers for immediate relatives, authorities then divide up the remaining visas allotted for family immigration across the following five categories:
- Unmarried adult children of U.S. citizens
- Spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents
- Unmarried adult children of legal permanent residents
- Married adult children of U.S. citizens
- Siblings of U.S. citizens
Unused visas from any of the categories related to citizens roll over into the next category. In addition, any visas not distributed through the employee-preference program become available for family-based immigration. All this means is that annually, as many as 480,000 visas exist for family members looking to join you in the U.S.