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Family Visas and the Application Process

Since the approval of the Nationality and Immigration Act in the year 1965, the legal immigration is based on work skills and family ties to potential immigrants. Under the law provisions of the current immigration, the category of the family-based immigration approves U.S citizen’s green card or lawful permanent resident to bring members of their families to the United States. There are approximately 480,000 family visas processed every year. The family immigrants are usually allowed as closer relatives of citizens of U.S or by the family preference system.

Family visas contribute highly to the economy of the country, local communities and the national fabric. The significant domestic economic growth contributes highly to the well-being of the future and current labor force, which, therefore, plays a pivotal role in the development of business and community improvement and they are the best upward section of the labor force. This fact exposes social and economic advantages associated with family visa.

Who is qualified for Family Visa?

There are only two groups of people who can successfully acquire family visas, they are:

Family preferred categories

This takes care of the unmarried daughters and sons of the U.S citizens their children and spouses, minor children, spouses and the unmarried daughters and sons above 21 years of citizens and lawful permanents residents. Married daughters and sons of citizens of U.S and their spouses and the minor children, sisters and brothers of U.S citizens and their spouse’s minor children as long as they have attained 21 years of age.

The immediate relatives

The spouses of the citizens of U.S, the unmarried children, the orphans adopted from abroad, parents of the U.S citizens of at least 21 years of age and the orphans yet to be adopted by the citizens of U.S.

Importance of Family Visas

They Contribute to the Economic and Social Integration of Immigrants

Due to the lack of clear public policies surrounding the integration of immigrants, ethnic communities and family have traditionally acted together with the place of work as a very powerful institution of integration. Particularly, families and ethnic communities operate as the source of important resources for the immigrants, including employment opportunities, different forms of support and access to credit. In other words, whenever newcomers visit with family visa, they come alongside available resources that help them towards navigating the system and they are able to secure employment or set-up their own businesses.

Immigrants Visiting with Family Visa have the opportunity to climb the Socio-economic Ladder

The original difference between the employment-based and family-based immigrants tends to go down with time. Despite the anticipated lower productivity associated with kinship-immigrants in the U.S labor market, it has been depicted that the unemployment-related immigration is highly associated with very low earnings but higher growth earnings compared to the employment-based immigration. The estimated growth of the earnings is enough for the non-occupation-based immigrants to be able to catch up with the already admitted immigrants after 11 to 13 years. For the new immigrants, where most of them traveled with family visas, they turned out to be a strongly upwardly mobile force in American labor. This is clearly shown by the rising rates of post-immigration investment in human capital. This is not only beneficial to the immigrants but also to the economy as a whole.

Immigrants on Family Visa’s have positive effects towards community and Business Development.

Close ties especially the family contributes highly to the formation of immigrant communities which leads to a fertile environment for business development. A careful case study has revealed that close-knit and extended families in immigrant communities have eased the economic absorption of new immigrants and further contributed to the creation of jobs both from the opening of new businesses as well as through supporting existing business.

Most of the famous high technology firms bear the roots of entrepreneurs who are foreign-born. For example, in Silicon Valley in the United States, several companies were begun by immigrants who got into the country through family visas. This move is allowed by the law because they have knowledge of the economic value that could be attributed to immigrant families in supporting existing industry as well as bringing in motivated individuals to revitalize neighborhoods that have been neglected. And so the local government has set up programs geared towards attracting immigrants in order to help support their economic viability.

Those who migrate on Family Preference Visa Category are more able to have an opportunity to achieve higher earnings.

According to an empirical research about the economic benefits of immigrants who are accepted as siblings, it shows that the benefits are not only humanitarian; there are also associated economic reasons. In most cases, the fourth-preference is highly associated with self-employment. Sibling’s immigrants also tend to have very high initial earnings compared to the general family-admitted immigrants. Additionally, the group of immigrants who are able to find their way in the foreign land through fourth-preference admissions tends to experience higher earnings growth rate with time.

The Requirements for Family Visas

For a case of a Sponsor in U.S application, it involves several backgrounds and screening checks, fee, medical examination, and an interview. The Sponsoring relative aged above 18 years and in most case 21 years and lives in the U.S, is required to present a file petition for his/her family members in court with Citizenship and the Immigration Services.

In this petition they must validate the relationship and whether they meet the required level of income. The sponsor should also avail a signed affidavit of backup that states he/she will financially support the applicant. Every potential immigrant is then supposed to undergo a thorough security and background check, which includes national security, criminal history, health-related and other forms of screening. The Citizenship and Immigration department verifies all the green card applicants to know whether the immigrant is not likely to become a public charge who will demand some kind of public assistance.

After the petition is approved, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC), where the applicant is directed to fill certain forms, submit the right documents and pay some fee. Once all the documents are received by the NVC, the consulate officer takes the responsibility of interviewing the applicant to determine whether he/she is qualified. It is required that all the applicants undergo a medical examination which is carried out by an approved physician and given vaccinations before a Visa is issued by the government.

The Conditional Residence for New Spouses

Married individuals must prove the genuineness of their relationship through documentation and avail themselves at a marriage interview. If the interview occurs before the second anniversary, the foreign spouse is issued with a conditional status of residence. The condition governing permanent residence should, later on, be removed through a joint application done by the spouses. In case the marriage had since been terminated, the foreign spouse would be allowed to apply for a waiver in the joint filling needed, although they must be ready to prove the authenticity of their marriage.


Therefore, family and skill-based immigration using a family visa should not be viewed as being mutually exclusive. They are both rooted in American Values. However, the positive consequences related to family immigration is not only executed from a humanitarian perspective but also economic one.