Skip Global Navigation to Main Content
Skip Breadcrumb Navigation
Family-based Immigrant Visas

Two groups of family based immigrant visa categories, including immediate relatives and family preference categories, are provided under the provisions of United States immigration law, specifically the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas (Unlimited): These visa types are based on a close family relationship with a U.S. citizen described as an Immediate Relative (IR).  The number of immigrants in these categories is not limited each fiscal year.  Immediate relative visa types include:

  • IR-1: Spouse of a U.S. Citizen;
  • IR-2: Unmarried Child Under 21 Years of Age of a U.S. Citizen;
  • 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 (Limited): These visa types are for specific, more distant, family relationships with a U.S. citizen and some specified relationships with a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR).  There are fiscal year numerical limitations on family preference immigrants, shown at the end of each category.  The family preference categories are:

  • Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children, if any;
  • Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of LPRs. At least seventy-seven percent of all visas available for this category will go to the spouses and children; the remainder is allocated to unmarried sons and daughters;
  • Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children;
  • Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age.

Note: Grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and cousins cannot sponsor a relative for immigration.

Returning Resident Immigrant Visas (SB) - A lawful permanent resident (LPR) who has remained outside the U.S. for longer than twelve months, or beyond the validity period of a re-entry permit, will require a new immigrant visa to enter the U.S. and resume permanent residence, if qualified.   For more information please visit our webpage “Returning Residents.”

For detailed information regarding the above immigrant visa categories, please visit the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs webpage “Family-based Immigrant Visas.”

Required Documentation

  • Pen checking square boxes on a white paper
    Download and Review (PDF 336 KB)

    Please click on the image to download and review the instruction package which is applicable only in case you have an approved petition for immigrant visa by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or in extraordinary cases by the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Tirana, Albania. This documentation should be mailed to National Visa Center (NVC), as instructed by them.

Adobe Reader

  • Download Free
    Download Free

    All downloadable documents on this page are provided in PDF format.  To view PDFs you must have a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader.  You may download a free version by clicking the link above.