Those people in Atlanta dealing with the United States’ immigration process know that it can be extremely complex. So much so, in fact, that many who may hope to reunite with their families and friends who would also like to immigrate into the country may actually advise against it (if for nothing more than just to avoid the administrative hassle).
Yet that need not be the case. Indeed, reunification remains one of the primary focuses of U.S. immigration officials. To assist with this, lawmakers set an actual quota of visas available each year for this purpose. Understanding these numbers (and which categories their loved ones may fall into) may allow one to navigate through the entire immigration process much sooner.
The family-based immigration system
More than 1 million people immigrate to the U.S. annually (with Atlanta being one of the more common immigration destinations, according to the Pew Research Center). People come to the country for any number of reasons; this makes it imperative that authorities impose some sort of organization in order to allow immigrant families to reunite. Thus comes the family-based immigration system.
According to this system, officials make an unlimited number of visas available to immediate relatives of current adult U.S. citizens. “Immediate relatives” in this context include spouses, unmarried minor children and parents.
Additional immigration categories
After immediate relatives, the visa preference allocation is as follows:
- Unmarried adult children of U.S. citizens
- Spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents
- Unmarried adult children of legal permanent residents
- Married adult children of U.S. citizens
- Siblings of U.S. citizens
Per the American Immigration Council, despite having an unlimited number of visas available for immediate relatives, the law requires a minimum of 226,000 for the other categories. Thus, the number of total family-based visas often exceeds the minimum number of 480,000 visas granted annually for family reunification.