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How does naturalization affect family immigration?

Immigration Services

Sometimes people in Kentucky who are in the United States as a lawful permanent resident petition for their spouse or child to obtain an immigrant visa. However, the visa application process can take a long time. There are occasions in which a lawful permanent resident sponsoring a family member for a visa becomes a U.S. citizen before the visa application process is complete. They may wonder how their new status as a U.S. citizen affects the visa application process.

When a sponsor becomes a U.S. citizen, this can change the kind of family-based visa being sought. First, the sponsor must provide the National Visa Center with proof that they have become a U.S. citizen. The NVC will then change the visa category that the family member visa applicant falls under. Spouses or unmarried children under 21-years-old will have their application for a visa changed from the family second preference category to the immediate relative category.

This is important because the U.S. can issue an unlimited number of visas in the immediate relative category. There are limitations on how many visas in other categories can be awarded annually. Therefore, a person in the immediate relative category may have a better chance of obtaining a visa than those seeking visas in other categories.

Reunification with loved ones immigrating from other countries is something that is sought by many lawful permanent residents and U.S. citizens in our nation. Family immigration may be a means to achieve this reunification. However, a person's petition for immigration can take a while to process and a sponsor's citizenship status may change in the meantime. This, in turn, can affect their family member's petition for immigration, often for the better. In this sense, naturalization benefits not just the lawful permanent resident who has become a U.S. citizen but also any family members trying to obtain a visa.

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