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Visa Types - Family-Sponsored - Overview of Application Process

Aliens who wish to immigrate permanently to the United States under family-sponsored visas must meet certain requirements relating to their eligibility, and they must file certain documents and pay all fees related to the visa process, as well.
Often, the number of qualified visa applicants exceeds the available visa numbers. When this happens, visas are issued based on applicants' priority dates, which are the dates on which they filed their applications.


Certain categories of immigrants are always ineligible for visas, including those with certain communicable diseases, those with mental or physical disorders that make them dangerous to themselves or others, those who are addicted to drugs, those who are terrorists, those who have illegally entered the United States, those who have committed serious crimes and those who are ineligible for citizenship. Waivers are available for some of these aliens, and if a waiver might apply, the U.S. consulate or embassy advises the applicant further.


An alien who wishes to immigrate to the U.S. under a family-sponsored visa must have his or her U.S. relative file a petition with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS). The person filing the petition is called a petitioner or a sponsor, and the alien is called the applicant. After the local CIS office approves the petition, it notifies the sponsor and provides the information to the Immigrant Visa Processing Center, which notifies the applicant.

Visa Application


Both the sponsor and the applicant must provide certain documents to support the visa application. The sponsor must provide an affidavit of support, and the applicant must provide several personal documents, including his or her passport, birth certificate, police certificates from the areas in which he or she has resided, and any other documents requested by the consular officer.

Medical Examination

A visa is not issued until the applicant has a medical examination by a doctor designated by the consular officer.


There is a cost associated with processing every visa application in the amount of $ 335. Additionally, the applicant must bear the cost of his or her medical examination.