Family reunification serves as a pillar of immigration into the United States. Thus, if you want to reunite with your family, you will likely have less of a wait than other immigrants who intend to travel alone.
But what should you know about family immigration quotas and laws like the Immigration and Nationality Act? How do they impact your visa process?
How initial visa distribution works
The American Immigration Council discusses family immigration quotas. This serves as visa availabilities for immediate family members. The INA mandates at least 260,000 visas per year for the purpose of family immigrations. The quotas stipulate who gets these visas and in what order they get them.
For example, if you are a naturalized citizen who wants to bring an immediate family member over – i.e. an unmarried minor child, parent or spouse – then they have access to these visas.
The trickle-down of visas
The remaining visas end up divided among other relatives. They fall into five separate categories, including unmarried adult children of U.S. citizens, minor children and spouses of legal permanent residents, the adult unmarried children of legal permanent residents, the adult married children of U.S. citizens and siblings of U.S. citizens.
Any unused visas from one category will automatically roll into the next. The visas that are not distributed through the employee preference program also join the available visas for family-based immigration. Thus, in total, around 480,000 visas exist for those looking for a way to get their family into the country.
The process still seems tricky and lengthy for many, but it is often easier than it initially seems.