U.S. citizens can petition their families or relatives to help them get Green Cards. Since the process deals with legality, it is wise to obtain advice from a family petition lawyer. This process, which is very important for the country’s policy goal of family reunification, involves getting an immigrant Visa.
If you are planning on getting a family member an immigrant Visa, the application process must follow the steps required by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS. However, if your relative is already in the United States, they will need to undergo an adjustment of status.
The Immigration and Nationality Act, or INA, allows permanent residents or U.S. citizens to petition their families. There are two types of family-based immigration – immediate relative and family preference. On the one hand, immediate relative immigration is based on the degree of relationship. Under this category, the number of immigrants has no limit.
On the other hand, family preference is a specific and more distant family relationship. The number of immigrants is limited each year under this category. So before you apply, it’s advantageous to hire a family petition lawyer to evaluate your circumstances and prepare the needed paperwork.
In sponsoring an immediate member or relative in family-based immigration, USCIS has a requirement wherein the sponsor needs to be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, also known as a Green Card holder. In addition, the sponsor in this process must have the financial capacity to support their family or relatives in going to the United States
Both permanent residents and U.S. citizens have options for obtaining family-based Visas. The State will only allow lesser family member options for LPRs to sponsor, but the procedure will be the same. To avoid confusion and ensure the validity of the immigration proceedings, consult with a family petition lawyer.
Lawful permanent residents or LPRs can live and work in the United States. They can accept employment opportunities without special restrictions and receive financial assistance from public universities and colleges. They may also become U.S. citizens if they meet specific requirements. Foreign nationals who wish to become permanent residents can choose from a wide range of classifications. One of these is the LPR program for family reunification under the INA.
Filing Petition For Family Members
What are the qualifications of a U.S. citizen or LPR to petition family or relatives? There are criteria for the petitioner set by the USCIS.
- U.S. citizens have the privilege to petition their spouses, children, and parents.
- U.S. citizens, under family preference, can petition for adult or married children (1st preference to 3rd preference)
- If U.S. citizens have siblings, they can petition for brothers or sisters.
Once an immediate family member qualifies for sponsorship to get a Visa, they will undergo an immigration process at the U.S. embassy or consulate. So before preparing the paperwork, you may consult a family petition lawyer for your relatives to guide them through the process.
Family Members To Petition
Family-based petitions have two categories: immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and the family preference group. U.S. citizens have an advantage when petitioning family or relatives because of their natural-born status. LPRs, on the other hand, can only petition spouses and minor children.
Unlike their immediate relatives, beneficiaries of family preference petitions are subject to yearly Visa quotas. It means that people from certain countries often have long waiting periods. When sponsors want to ensure the success of their family-based immigration petition, checking the family preference categories is a must.
- U.S. citizens can petition unmarried children who are 21 years old and above.
- Lawful permanent residents can file for a petition for their spouses and children below 21 years old.
- LPRs can also petition for their unmarried children even if they are over 21 years old already.
- Lastly, U.S. citizens can petition married adult children and siblings.
The different preference categories establish the numerical limitations and priority dates for family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. For instance, people in the 4th and 5th categories typically take longer to get a Visa than those in the 1st and 1st preference categories. It is due to the backlogs and the individual’s country of origin in these categories.
Family-Based Immigration Process
There are specific steps you need to follow and documents to submit. The first factor to consider, the sponsor must be either a U.S. citizen, a Green Card holder, or a natural-born. However, this is a long process and will take quite some time because only limited slots are available annually.
- Step 1. A sponsor must submit the documents required in the Immigration and Nationality Act. Lawful Permanent Residents must consult with a family petition lawyer to ensure they will comply with all requirements.
- Step 2. The authorized officers of the State will then review the sponsor application and thoroughly inspect the documents. They will ensure that everything is genuine and does not constitute fraud or criminal activities. If the officers deny the petition, one can go to the National Visa Center and try to get its approval.
- Step 3. It’s now the waiting period. If the ones petitioned by the sponsor are in the family preference group, the waiting time will be quicker because of their immediate relationship with the sponsor.
- But, when petitioning relatives who are not immediate family members, they will wait for an opening regarding the annual limit of Green Cards that the State can administer. They will usually wait a year before learning if the Visa is available.
- Step 4. If the authority approves the petition, the sponsor’s family can apply for a Green Card. If they are still outside the U.S., they need to go to a U.S. consulate in their country to process the required documents.
After these steps, the family-based immigrant needs to prove that they will have the financial means to live in the United States.
Filing I-864 Affidavit Of Support
Family-based immigrants, including relatives of U.S. citizens, must provide an affidavit of support when filing an adjustment application with the USCIS. The purpose of the affidavit is to show that the family member can legally come and live in the United States without becoming a public charge.
Those who are likely to become public charges are not allowed to become permanent residents or be admitted to the country. An affidavit of support is required for adjustment applications filed on behalf of family-based immigrants. As a requirement, the application sponsor should be either a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident.
The sponsor of an adjustment application must meet a specific income requirement tied to the yearly guidelines for the poverty rate. They must establish that the sponsor must at least have an income of at least 125% of the poverty level. The source of income includes the sponsor, their children, and their relatives living in the same residence.
The most common way to provide proof of income is through W-2 forms, income tax returns, and employment letters. These documents must be printed on company stationery and include the employee’s salary, job responsibilities, and the start and end date of their employment. Besides these, a sponsor can also utilize assets to meet the income requirement. These include bank accounts, bonds, real estate, and certificates of deposit.
Role Of A Family Petition Lawyer
Completing the proper documentation for a relative is crucial for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to approve the application. But, preparing everything yourself is challenging, especially when you are not familiar with immigration laws and drafting the necessary legal documents.
A family petition lawyer can help you decide if you can file a petition for a relative under your status as a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder. They will advise you on the success rate of the family-based immigration process and be honest about the hurdles that will arise.
So when’s the right time to hire a family petition lawyer? Or should you engage with one from the very start? Of course, you must hire one before filing. Although many people may decide to apply on their own, it can take a lot of work to know which step to take if you have a family petition lawyer on your side.
A qualified and experienced lawyer can help you navigate the complex immigration process removing the heavy burden and stress from your shoulders. There are things in a legal proceeding like family-based immigration that individuals should leave to the hand of a competent family petition lawyer. They can help you identify which family member can apply for a specific category and condition and provide advice on fixing any issues. Read about how U.S Temporary Visas work.
Having loved ones by your side is critical to your emotional health, especially in these challenging times. But, the process of family-based immigration can be very time-consuming and challenging due to the number of documents you must submit. With the help of a family petition lawyer at Lincoln-Goldfinch Law, you can worry less and get through this process successfully.
They will take care of the entire process from start to finish, ensuring that you and your family have constant updates. If you need help with the application for a family-based immigration Visa, please contact Lincoln-Goldfinch Law. They have helped hundreds of families to reunite and live in the United States permanently. So contact their family petition lawyer now for a free evaluation.