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Bringing your family to the U.S.: Understanding visas and waivers

The United States is a land of opportunity and a destination for many seeking to build a new life. For immigrants already settled in the U.S., bringing family members to join them can be a significant and heartwarming process.

However, navigating the complex world of visas and waivers can be daunting. Therefore, understanding the different types of visas and waivers available can be crucial for those wanting to reunite with their loved ones on American soil.

Types of visas and waivers

Bringing family members to the United States involves navigating various types of visas and waivers, each serving different purposes and requirements. They include:

  • Family-based immigrant visas: These visas are for close family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. They include immediate relative visas for spouses, children, parents of U.S. citizens and family preference visas for other relatives such as siblings and adult children.
  • Fiancé(e) visas (K-1): Intended for foreign nationals engaged to U.S. citizens, the K-1 visa allows them to enter the U.S. for marriage.
  • Nonimmigrant visas: These visas are for temporary stays in the U.S. and may include visas for spouses (K-3 visa), children (K-4 visa) and other family members.
  • Waivers of inadmissibility: Some family members may face inadmissibility issues due to past immigration violations or criminal records. Waivers, such as the I-601 waiver for unlawful presence or the I-212 waiver for certain deportations, can sometimes be obtained to overcome these barriers.
  • Humanitarian parole: Individuals may apply for humanitarian parole to enter the U.S. temporarily in urgent humanitarian needs, such as medical emergencies or family reunification.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) adjudicates visa applications and determines the appropriate visa category based on individual circumstances. To help reduce the chances of your visa being denied, applicants should carefully check the requirements for their desired visa type and try to ensure they provide accurate and complete information.

Understanding these options and seeking proper legal guidance can help families through the complexities of immigration, and to more effectively start on their journey to build a life together in the United States.