Visa Requirements for Bringing Family to America

So you’re a Nigerian citizen who wants to bring your family to live with you in the United States. Great! Having your loved ones with you in your new home is a big part of building a life in America.

But first, you need to navigate the US visa application process. Getting approved for family-based immigration can be complicated, with lots of paperwork and waiting periods. The rules are different depending on your specific situation – whether you’re applying for a spouse, fiance(e), child, parent, or sibling.

In this blog post, we’ll break down the step-by-step guide to getting visas for your family members in Nigeria so they can come join you in the US.

Overview of Family-Based Immigration Process

There are several ways a family member can immigrate to the US:

  • Immediate relative visa – for spouses, unmarried children under 21, and parents of adult US citizens
  • Family preference visa – for married adult children, siblings, and grandchildren of US citizens and permanent residents
  • FiancĂ© visa – for foreign fiance(e)s of US citizens planning to marry within 90 days of arriving in the US

No matter which visa you apply for, the process involves these general steps:

  1. Petitioner (US citizen/permanent resident) files I-130 petition
  2. Beneficiary submits visa application and supporting documents
  3. Interview at US Embassy/Consulate in Nigeria
  4. Medical exam
  5. Visa approval and issuance
  6. Entry to the US

Next we’ll look at the specifics for each visa category.

Spousal Visa

If you are a US citizen who wants to bring your spouse from Nigeria to live with you, you’ll need to apply for an immigrant visa in the immediate relative category. Here’s how:

Step 1: File Form I-130

As the US citizen petitioner, you must file Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form establishes your relationship to your spouse and initiates the visa process.

Processing times for I-130 petitions vary, but can take 8-12 months.

Step 2: Submit Visa Application

Once the I-130 is approved, your spouse can apply for an immigrant visa by submitting:

  • Form DS-260 (Immigrant Visa Application)
  • civil documents proving relationship (marriage certificate)
  • Financial support forms
  • Other supporting documents

Step 3: Attend Interview

Your spouse will be scheduled for an interview at the US Embassy in Abuja or Consulate in Lagos. This is to verify your marriage is legitimate and that your spouse is eligible for a green card.

Your spouse can have a lawyer attend the interview for support.

Step 4: Undergo Medical Exam

As part of the application process, your spouse must complete a medical exam at an approved clinic. The results will be shared with the consular office.

Step 5: Receive Immigration Visa

If approved, your spouse will be issued an immigrant visa in their passport. This allows them to enter the US and apply for a green card.

Your spouse must enter the US within 6 months of getting the visa.

Child Visa

For minor children unmarried and under 21, the process to immigrate to the US is similar:

Step 1: File I-130 Petition

As the US citizen parent, you file Form I-130 establishing your relationship to your children.

Step 2: Submit Visa Application

Once approved, your child can apply for an immigrant visa by submitting:

  • Form DS-260
  • Birth certificate
  • Financial support forms
  • Other evidence of relationship

Step 3: Interview

Your child will need to attend an immigrant visa interview at the US Embassy in Lagos or Abuja.

Step 4: Medical Exam

Your child will also undergo a medical exam with vaccination updates.

Step 5: Obtain Visa

If approved, your child will receive an immigration visa to travel to the US within 6 months.

Parent Visa

US citizens who want to bring their parents to America can file for an immigrant visa in the immediate relative category. Here’s how:

Step 1: File I-130 Petition

You must file Form I-130 establishing your parent-child relationship as a US citizen. Parents of permanent residents aren’t eligible.

Step 2: Submit Visa Application

Once the I-130 is approved, your parent submits their visa application including:

  • Form DS-260
  • Proof of relationship (birth certificate)
  • Financial support forms showing you can support your parent

Step 3: Interview

Your parent will need to attend an immigrant visa interview at the US Embassy in Nigeria.

Step 4: Medical Exam

Your parent must also undergo a medical exam.

Step 5: Obtain Visa

If approved, your parent will receive an immigration visa to enter the US within 6 months.

Sibling Visa

For US citizens who want to bring their brothers and sisters to America, you can file for a family preference visa. Here’s how:

Step 1: File I-130 Petition

As the petitioning US citizen, file Form I-130 establishing your relationship to your sibling.

Step 2: Waiting Period

Unfortunately, siblings often face a long wait time – up to 13+ years in some cases! Sibling visas fall into preference category 4, which has strict annual limits.

During this time, your sibling must maintain their eligibility.

Step 3: Submit Visa Application

Once a visa is available, your sibling can submit their visa application including:

  • Form DS-260
  • Birth certificate
  • Financial support forms
  • Other documentation

Step 4: Interview and Medical Exam

Your sibling will need to complete an interview at the Embassy and undergo a medical exam.

Step 5: Obtain Visa

If approved, your sibling will receive an immigration visa to enter the US.

Fiance(e) Visa

If you are a US citizen with a foreign fiance(e) in Nigeria, you can bring them to the US to get married through the K-1 fiance(e) visa process. Here are the steps:

Step 1: File Petition

You must file Form I-129F establishing your intent to marry your foreign fiance(e) within 90 days of their arrival in the US.

Step 2: Submit Visa Application

Once the I-129F is approved, your fiance(e) can apply for a K-1 visa by submitting:

  • Form DS-160
  • Proof of relationship
  • Financial documents and more

Your fiance(e) must remain unmarried until arriving in the US.

Step 3: Interview

Your fiance(e) will attend a K-1 visa interview at the US Embassy in Nigeria.

Step 4: Medical Exam

They will also undergo a medical exam for immigration purposes.

Step 5: Obtain Visa

If approved, your fiance(e) will receive a K-1 fiance(e) visa allowing them to enter the US and get married within 90 days.

After marriage, they can apply for a green card.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • Provide as much evidence as possible to prove genuine relationships
  • Be prepared for processing delays and long wait times
  • Seek legal help if your case is complex or you’ve had issues like visa denials
  • Fees add up, so account for costs of petitions, applications, medical exams
  • Communicate with your family members during the process

Bringing family to the US can be challenging, but very rewarding. With proper documentation, patience, and legal support, you can successfully navigate the visa process.