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Family Immigration

San Diego, CA

How Can My Family Immigrate to the United States?

There are two ways to obtain an immigrant visa (aka “green card”), either through employment or through family.

Family-sponsored immigrants enter in one of two ways, either as immediate relatives or through what is called the family preference system. Here, it is the family member, rather than an employer, who files a petition to keep a foreign national in the country, with a permanent visa.

Through Immediate Relatives

There are an unlimited number of visas issued for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, and immediate relatives of United States Citizens are exempt from the need for an immigrant visa number. This group includes the following:


Spouses must prove the following: evidence of a bona fide marriage, valid marriage and legal termination of a prior marriage; a valid marriage, which is judged by law of the place it is entered into and physical presence together at the ceremony. (A proxy, picture, telephone, radio, television or similar absentee marriage does not confer immigration benefits.) However, consummation by cohabitation between the parties after the marriage will accrue benefits.

Unmarried minor children of U.S. citizens

Unmarried children must show they are unmarried and under the age of 21 AT THE TIME THE VISA IS ISSUED AND ENTRY INTO THE U.S. If the child marries or becomes 21 after the visa is issued, and BEFORE admission or adjustment, then they are no longer considered a child.

  • Stepchild is included in the definition of child if under 18 at the time the marriage occurred which created the status of stepchild.
  • Adoptive child is included if adopted under the age of 16 and in legal custody of and has resided with the adopting parent for at least 2 years.
  • Orphans under 16 at the time the visa petition filed on his or her behalf. Orphaned by death or disappearance or abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from, both parents.
  • Child born out of wedlock where child not is legitimated by the father. Full legal status as a child accomplished by marriage of the child’s natural parents. If not legitimized, the law recognizes the relationship with respect to the natural father where the parent and child lived together, father held child out as his own and provided some or all of child’s needs.
Parents of US citizens who are at least 21 years old

Defined term means a parent who is such, by reason of a relationship to a child as biological parent, stepparent, mother of child born out of wedlock or adoptive parent.

Through the Family Sponsored Preference

The family preference system is far more restrictive than immigration through an immediate relative, and has a limited number of visas issued in its four categories each year. In addition, the waiting period for a visa through family sponsored preference can be extremely long.

FS-1 Visa for Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens

Such sons and daughters must prove that the son or daughter once qualified as a child, so, in effect, this applies to an adult, unmarried child of a U.S. citizen.

FS-2 Visa for Spouses and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Resident Aliens

This group has two tiers:

  • 2A-Spouses and minor, unmarried sons and daughters
  • 2B-Adult unmarried children
FS-3 Visa for Married sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens

A U.S. citizen’s son or daughter, even if over 21 and married, includes legitimized children, but only if under the age of 18 at time of legitimating. Adoptive children qualify if they qualify as “children” within statutory definition.

FS-4 Visa for Brothers and Sisters of U.S. Adult Citizens

Citizen must be at least 21 years old. This group is backlogged and it may be best to try an another route such as a U.S. citizen sponsoring a parent who in turn sponsors a sibling. To establish a sibling relationship, petitioner and beneficiary must have once qualified as “children” of a common “parent.”

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Immigration Attorney: Johanna M. Keamy
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The immigration process can be a lot to comprehend, but our team of San Diego Immigration Lawyers are here to help. We make the process as simple as possible and if you have any questions or concerns about your specific situation we’re always available for consultation.


When we first meet with you to understand your situation and goals, we’ll propose a set of solutions so you can choose what feels best. From there, we'll work with you to find a solution that best meets your needs and the government's requirements. Book a consultation below.


We’ll make it easy to communicate and for you to provide documents and information. We'll work with you one-on-one, guiding your application through an efficient review process that will be tailored specifically to what works best with immigration authorities.

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After you sign and finalize your application with us, we will diligently keep you updated on the process. We can accompany you to any interviews that take place in the United States as well. No matter what part of this journey, we will be by your side every step of the way.


Getting approved is a wonderful moment to celebrate. We’ll make sure you understand what comes next and if you need to do anything else. We’ll stay close and you can rely on us to update you in advance of any action you’ll need to take to ensure your immigration status remains.

Johanna Keamy Attorney

Professional and Experienced Family Immigration Law Attorney

Keamy Tavares & Associates
– Are Ready to Help You Move to the US

It is easy to see that family reunification is one of the most visible areas in government policy in which we support and strengthen family values. We acknowledge that family unification translates into strong families who build strong communities.

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