How the United States Approaches Family Reunification for Immigrants

Posted on 05/12/23

United States Approaches Family Reunification for Immigrants

If you are an immigrant lawfully residing in the U.S., family reunification policies may allow your immediate family members to become permanent residents as well. But you’ll need to submit an application and make sure you’re eligible before bringing family members to the country.

Here’s what you need to know about federal family reunification programs.

What Is Family Reunification? 

U.S. family reunification programs enable asylees and refugees to become reunited with their immediate family members by improving their eligibility to reside in the U.S. Typically, these programs are only available to immediate family members of a current permanent resident. Immediate family members include:

  • Children (unmarried and under 21)
  • Spouses
  • Parents

Some family reunification visas may also apply to siblings. 

If you are an immigrant currently residing in Connecticut, you can reach out to an immigration attorney or resettlement agency to learn more about reunification programs or ask about a reunification readiness assessment.

Types of Family Reunification Programs and Visas

Understanding which program applies to your situation can help you determine your eligibility for family reunification. Here are a few different methods of family reunification.


The I-730 is a refugee/asylee relative petition available to:

  • Principal refugees admitted to the U.S. within the last two years
  • Principal asylees granted asylum within the past two years

If granted, this petition would enable your spouse and unmarried children to come to the U.S. and receive following-to-join immigration benefits. Many resettlement agencies recommend using legal representation through the I-730 reunification process. 

Priority Direct Access Program

The Priority Direct Access Program (through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program) is a petition for refugees and asylees to bring their spouses, unmarried children, and parents to the U.S. These family members must meet the definition of refugees in the U.S. and otherwise be admissible for legal immigration. 

To initiate this process, you must file an Affidavit of Relationship with a resettlement agency. An immigration attorney can assist you with your application. 

Family Visas (Unlimited)

The USCIS offers an unlimited number of family visas to immediate relatives and close family members of certain U.S. residents:  

  • IR-1: Visas for spouses
  • IR-2: Visas for children (unmarried and under 21)
  • IR-3: Visas for orphans adopted abroad
  • IR-4: Visas for orphans adopted in the U.S.
  • IR-5: Visas for parents of U.S. citizens

A Visa would allow your family member to enter and remain within the U.S. temporarily. 

Family Preference Visas

A limited number of family preference visas are available to U.S. citizens. These visas may allow U.S. citizens to bring spouses, children, parents, and siblings to the country. 

In some cases, a family preference visa may be available to a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the U.S. These individuals can only file visa petitions for their spouses or unmarried children.  

USCIS typically limits the number of family preference visas available to 226,000 per year.