Many U.S. gentlemen who have recently married a bride born in a foreign country call us with this question: My bride would like to bring her family over to the U.S., such her mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, cousin, etc., what can we do and what visas are available?

First off, the blunt and painful "short answer" to this question is that there are no fast, easy and inexpensive ways to secure a U.S. visa for family members of the foreign-citizen bride. The visa for the bride was much easier because of her present marriage relationship with the U.S. citizen gentleman, which is a close and direct relationship recognized under immigration regulations.

It is important to keep two points in mind:
Immigration rules and visa processing greatly favor:
1) CLOSE family relationship as opposed to DISTANT ones, and
2) petitioners who are U.S. CITIZENS rather than just U.S. LEGAL RESIDENTS.

The foreign-citizen bride benefited because she was the spouse (or fiancee) of a U.S. citizen petitioner (namely, the U.S. gentleman), and thus enjoyed a faster and easier process to secure a visa because U.S. visa regulations greatly favor this particular family relationship. Family members of the bride, such as mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, counsin, etc., however are another matter entirely. There are two broad types of visa: Permanent resident visas and temporary visas. Permanent resident visas for eligible family members will require wait times of one to six years. Temporary visas of any kind (tourist, student, work) will require a strong showing that the family member will return to their home country at the end of the visa stay, something most applicants cannot provide easily.


Any person entering the U.S. must carry a U.S. visa, if they wish to have "legal status". Permanent resident visas, also referred to "green cards", allow the holder to reside in the U.S. on an on-going basis, and live, work and travel freely.


For a family member of the bride to apply for this type of visa based on family relationship, there are basically four (4) requirements:
1) the family member needs to have an "IMMIGRATION PETITIONER" who files the Petition I-130, such as the bride,
2) the family member must be an "IMMEDIATE RELATIVE" of the immigration petitioner. Immigration regulations define "immediate relatives" as a spouse, a parent or a minor unmarried child under age 21.
3)The petitioner or bride if she is the petitioner must show that she is a "U.S. CITIZEN"
4) The petitioner or bride or other person must sign the I-864 Affidavit of Support as FINANCIAL SPONSOR the visa applicant

The basic problem which most couples run into: the bride is not yet a "U.S. Citizen" because that process, known as "Naturalization", itself with take up to five (5) years. See Naturalization Information. Most brides hold status simply as a "U.S. legal resident", usually only a "conditional" legal resident for up to two (2) years. Furthermore, most brides who entered the U.S. under a K-1 Fiancee Visa and married here only have "pending status", with a legal residency or adjustment petition pending and awaiting approval. Another problem with this method is that "immediate relative" is narrowly defined and does not include most of the bride's family such as sisters and brothers, uncles and aunts and cousins. If we try to name, instead of the bride, the U.S. gentleman as the "U.S. citizen petitioner" for family member applicants, another problem develops. The family of the bride is not the blood relative family of the U.S. gentleman. Her family members, such as her mom or dad, are only "in-law" relatives of the gentleman who do not qualify under current immigration regulations as "immediate relatives" of the U.S. gentleman.


Can the bride petition, simply as a U.S. legal resident, petition for permanent resident visa for any family member at all? The answer is yes, bride can petition for certain "PREFERENCE RELATIVES". However, immigration regulations have set up a complicated scheme to allow for this, and this process is subject to quota restrictions which makes for long waiting periods for the visa. For example, a bride as U.S. legal resident can petition for her spouse (not applicable in our case here since the U.S. gentlemen is already a U.S. citizen), and any unmarried children under age 21 (again probably not applicable to our case here).

Subject to quota restrictions, other family members who are considered "preference relatives" can be petitioned for by the bride for permanent visa, if she can first show "U.S. citizen" status. 1) Unmarried children of the bride over age 21 (adult), 2) Married children of the bride (any age) and 3) Brothers and sisters of the bride.

The quota waiting times are long. Currently for citizens of Colombia, The Philippines and India, the waiting times can exceed five to six years. See State Department Visa Bulletin.

For more information about Permanent Resident Visas for family members, please visit this site. Permanent Resident Visa for Family Members.

For information about Permanent Resident Visas for family members based on Employment, please visit this site: Permanent Resident Visas based on Employment.


Some U.S. Citizen Gentlemen and their Foreign Bride wish to explore a resident visa for a minor child, for example a godchild or child of a half-sister or cousin, through international adoption.

In general, this is a two-part process: 1) the minor child must be adopted under local in-country family rules often through an adoption agency, and pursuant to a order of adoption signed by a judge, and 2) the resident visa must be applied for the U.S. Consulate or Embassy of the minor child's home country under the definition of "adopted minor child" pursuant to current immigration regulations. For more information about this procedure as it applies to adoption in Colombia and securing the resident visa, see:

U.S. Embassy, Bogota, Adoption Information.


Temporary visas offer another opportunity for U.S. visits for family members. These allow for short stays in the U.S. for a specific purpose. Most applicants can apply for these visas directly at the U.S. Consulate in their country. Waiting times however for interviews can be long at some Consulates. Click Here for Information on Visa Wait Times for Temporary Visas at Consulates Worldwide. WAIT TIMES.

The three most common temporary visas are: 1) tourist visas for short stay tourism, 2) student visas for full time study at immigration-approved school and 3) work visas for employment for a short duration with a designated employer.

The most difficult aspect of the temporary visa application is that the applicant must show to the U.S. Consulate in their home country that he or she has strong ties or connections to the home country sufficient to satisfy the Consular officers that the applicant will return home at the end of the visa stay. Such ties or connections to the home country usually consist of applicant's money or property in the home country or an established job or other business connection. (Sometimes, older tourist visa applicants, such as those age 65 and over and who can also show a retirement income, may enjoy a small advantage.)

Moreover, each of the temporary visa categories has its own visa requirements.

Please visit this link for more information on the Tourist Visa: Tourist Visa.

Please visit this link for more information about Temporary Visas issued by U.S. Consulate in Bogotá, Colombia: Temporary Visa.