If you live in the United States but have family abroad, it’s natural to want them to join you here in America. Depending on your personal status, family immigration may be an option.

Which family members may qualify for family-based immigration and what kind of immigration is available to them depend on whether you are a citizen or a lawful permanent resident.

While both groups of people have the right to seek family immigration, the rights of citizens include more relationships and are subject to fewer restrictions under federal immigration law.

Citizens can seek immigration visas for immediate relatives

United States citizens have the right to seek an unlimited number of visas for their immediate family members. Citizens can request visas for their spouses, their children, their parents and their siblings.

Not only does the individual family not have a limit to the number of visas that can be requested, but the family immigration program for citizens also does not have an annual limit at the federal level.

Legal permanent residents have immigration rights for their family too

Those who legally reside in the United States without becoming citizens also have the right to have their immediate family join them. However, family-based immigration for legal residents of the United States can only apply to spouses and unmarried, minor children.

Additionally, there is a limit to the total number of visas the government will issue under this program in any given year, making it more competitive than the family-based immigration program for United States citizens.

Families hoping to bring more members into the United States will need to consider the costs associated with immigration and the importance of each applicant being able to pass a background check prior to initiating the process.