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Family-Based (F) Immigration

Here are the steps for family-based immigration (F) visas. These are visas for brothers and sisters and adult or married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, or the spouse of a U.S. legal permanent resident.

  • Most immigrants are sponsored by a family member in the United States. Immigrant visa applications begin when someone in the United States submits a petition (Form I-130) on behalf of the intending immigrant to the office of the U. S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (formerly INS) in the United States that serves the petitioner's place of residence. (Do not submit the completed I-130 form to the Consular Section; we cannot process this form.) You cannot petition for yourself.
  • After USCIS approves a petition, it is assigned to one of the U.S. Embassies or Consulates overseas designated to process certain immigrant visa applications. Petitioners and immigrant visa applicants should anticipate a 4 to 6 month wait or possibly longer for the petition to arrive at the designated U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

NOTE. Effective immediately, DHS office in New Delhi will accept I-130 petitions for immediate-relative immigrant visas from American citizens who are resident in their consular districts. To demonstrate residency in a consular district, American citizen petitioners must be able to show that they have permission to reside in the consular district and that they have been doing so continuously for at least six months before filing the I-130 petition. Individuals who are in country on a temporary status, such as students or tourists, do not meet the residency standard.

NOTE on numerical limits. Whenever there are more qualified applicants for a category than there are available places, the category is considered oversubscribed. Immigrant visas are issued in the chronological order in which the petitions were filed until the numerical limit for the category is reached. The filing date of a petition becomes the applicant's priority date. Immigrant visas cannot be issued until an applicant's priority date is reached. In certain heavily oversubscribed categories, there may be a waiting period of several years before a priority date is reached. Check the Visa Bulletin for the latest priority dates.

  • There is a non-refundable fee of USD $420 for filing the I-130 petition. This fee is payable in cash, in U.S. dollars, at the time of filing.
  • When the I-130 petition is filed, the petitioner will be given a number of documents and forms by the Consular Section. These documents and forms must be filled out completely before the immigrant visa process can move forward (see "Completing the Immigrant Visa Process" link on the left-hand side of this page for more information).