Family Immigration & Consular Processing

An individual may obtain a temporary visa, permanent residency, or citizenship through a family member who is a U.S. citizen, or in some instances, a permanent resident. 

Temporary Visas for Family Members

Certain types of temporary, nonimmigrant visas allow persons to enter the United States as fiancees or while their immigrant visa applications are pending.  The different types of temporary family visas are listed below:

K-1, K-2, K-3, K-4, for fiancees and spouses of U.S. citizens, and their dependent children
V-1, V-2, V-3, spouse or child of lawful permanent resident with petition pending more than 3 years, subject to certain limitations

Permanent Residence

The immediate relative spouse, parent, or child of a U.S. citizen are immediately eligible to apply for permanent residence.  Once immigrant visas are available in the appropriate family preference category, the adult sons and daughters (married or unmarried) and the brothers and sisters of a U.S. citizen and the spouse, child, and unmarried adult sons and daughters of a permanent resident who have approved immigrant petitions or who are derivative beneficiaries are eligible to apply for permanent residence.  There are two main ways a person can apply to become a permanent resident:

Consular Processing

If the intending immigrant resides outside the United States, entered the United States without inspection, or overstayed on his or her visa, that person will likely have to obtain an immigrant visa through consular processing outside the United States.  This means that the intending immigrant will attend their visa interview at the U.S. consulate in their home country or a designated U.S. consulate near their home country.  After receiving an immigrant visa, the intending immigrant will then be allowed to enter (or reenter) the United States.  Upon doing so, he or she will become a permanent resident and a "green card" will be mailed to his or her new home in the United States.

Adjustment of Status

If the intending immigrant is already legally in the United States, that person may "adjust" his or her status from within the United States.  The intending immigrant will submit the adjustment of status application and all paperwork in the United States and will attend his or her interview at the local office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) closest to his or her residence.  After permanent residency has been approved, the "green card" will be mailed to the person's home.


Under the Child Citizenship Act, the minor (under the age of 18) children of U.S. citizens can skip permanent residency and automatically become U.S. citizens.  The parent must apply for permanent residency for his or her child.  When the application is approved while the child is still under 18 and present in the United States, the child automatically becomes a U.S. citizen.  This applies to adopted children, as well, so long as the two-year legal and physical custody requirements have been met.

If you think that you or a family member may be eligible for a temporary family visa, permanent residency, or citizenship based on a family petition, please do not hesitate to contact our office.  One of our attorneys will meet with you to determine the best option for you or your family member.