What You Need To Know About The U.S. Family-Based Petition

When you want to live, work, and reunite with your family in the United States, a family-based petition is one way to do it. It has its requirements and legal process, which can be overwhelming. That’s why hiring a reliable immigration lawyer is wise if you choose this path for permanent residency.

Dig into these essential facts that you need to know as you navigate this avenue of immigration. Learn how a Green Card lawyer can significantly help this journey.

Tips And Must-Know Information About The U.S. Family-Based Petition

Family Petition As A Pathway To Residency

There are several compelling reasons families choose to immigrate to the United States. First, the country offers a strong job market and higher wages, and this pursuit is most common among immigrants.

Second, families seek improved educational prospects for their children. The country offers access to improved education programs through its renowned universities and comprehensive system. Third, the healthcare system attracts families needing advanced medical care and facilities.

In addition, the alluring appeal of religious freedom and the protection of human rights draws people who suffered persecution in their home countries.

Whatever your motivating factor is for settling in the United States, it would be wise to explore its intricacies. Doing so would give you more confidence in navigating this complex landscape. With this, one of the things you need to know is about its sponsorship.

Sponsorship In Family-Based Immigration

Sponsorship plays a crucial role in family-based immigration as it is the stage where you indicate your connection to your relative in the United States. Your relative must be at least 21 years old and a lawful permanent resident (LPR) or a U.S. citizen to sponsor you for an Immigrant Visa. This process depends on your relationship with them, which is divided into categories.

Immediate Relatives

This category refers to the closest family members of U.S. citizens, including spouses, unmarried children under 21, and parents (if the sponsor is at least 21). There is no numerical limit on the number of Visas available for immediate relatives.

Family Preference

The family-preference category includes certain family members of citizens and Green Card holders who are their more distant relatives. The Visas for this category have annual numerical limits, meaning there is a cap on the number of Visas available yearly.

As mentioned, this category refers to distant relatives. It includes:

  • Unwed offspring and minors of U.S. citizens.
  • Unmarried children (under 21 years old) and spouses of lawful permanent residents.
  • Unmarried daughters and sons (21 years or older) of Green Card holders.
  • The married children of U.S. citizens, their spouses, and minor children.
  • Siblings of U.S. citizens.

It is essential to learn about these categories as they are crucial in determining the Visas you can apply for through your family. However, knowing the role of the sponsor is equally vital. If you are an intending immigrant, you must also know the eligibility of your U.S. citizen or LPR relative in this process.

Eligibility & Financial Support

They must meet specific eligibility requirements, including being a U.S. citizen or an LPR at least 21 years old. Additionally, the sponsor must demonstrate the ability to financially support you as the intending immigrant. Doing so would ensure that you will not become a public charge. It refers to an individual likely to depend primarily on the government for financial support.

To prove that your sponsor can financially back you up, they must meet specific income thresholds and provide supporting documents. It includes tax returns, pay stubs, and employment verification. They must submit an Affidavit of Support or Form I-864 to show their financial ability to support you. By signing this legally binding document, they agree to respond to your monetary needs in the United States.

Sponsors must demonstrate an income at or exceeding 125% of the Federal poverty level. For active duty military personnel sponsoring a spouse or children, the income requirement is 100% of the poverty level.

Their financial assets—such as checking and savings accounts, stocks, bonds, or property—may be considered should their income fall short of this requirement. The Federal poverty levels serve as the benchmark for these financial assessments.

Other than meeting these criteria, taking note of their roles in your immigration journey is vital. As an intending immigrant, it is better that you also know this aspect to have a clear perspective of your immigration journey.

Responsibilities Of The Sponsor

Your sponsor plays a crucial role in the immigration process and assumes various responsibilities. These can vary depending on the specific immigration category.

Filing The Petition

The sponsor initiates the immigration process by filing the appropriate petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The required form depends on the relationship between the sponsor and the intending immigrant.

For example, Form I-130 for immediate relatives or Form I-129F for fiancé(e)s. The sponsor must accurately complete the petition, provide the necessary documentation, and pay the required fees.

Providing Documentation

They must gather supporting documents that establish their relationship with you. This includes birth certificates, marriage certificates, or adoption papers. These documents help prove the relationship’s legitimacy and are necessary for your immigration application.

Attend The Interview

In certain instances, the sponsor and the intending immigrant might be obligated to participate in an interview conducted by the USCIS or at the U.S. embassy or consulate. During this interview, the sponsor may be asked to furnish supplementary evidence and establish that the relationship is genuine. They must show that it is rooted in authenticity and not solely orchestrated for immigration purposes.

Assist The Immigrant

Once the intending immigrant enters the United States, the sponsor is responsible for ensuring their well-being and compliance with the terms of their immigration status. This may involve assisting the immigrant with obtaining necessary documents, finding housing, accessing healthcare, and adapting to life in the United States. Your sponsor should also be aware of any adjustments in your situations, such as address changes, which may require updates to USCIS.

Sponsoring a family member for immigration is a significant commitment to legal and financial obligations. The sponsor should carefully consider their ability to fulfill these responsibilities. If they fail to attend to these obligations, the result can be their liabilities.

Liabilities Of The Sponsor

The sponsor is responsible for reimbursing the agency for any means-tested public benefits you receive. Failure to repay this debt may result in legal action, with the agency or you pursuing a court case to recover the owed funds.

This financial obligation extends to household members. A joint sponsor is an individual who consent to financially support you when your original petitioner cannot meet the required income threshold to help you. If these people permitted the combination of their income with the original petitioner to meet the minimum income requirements, this makes them legally accountable for supporting you.

Determining which categories apply to you and knowing the responsibilities of your petitioner is essential. However, learning about the priority system of this immigration process is equally vital. Doing so will help you cultivate the proper perspective and attitude as you anticipate the duration of processing your petition.

Priority System

The priority system in U.S. family immigration aims to facilitate unity and strengthen ties. However, the waiting times for some categories can be lengthy because of the limited number of Visas available and the high demand. This system determines the order in which family members can sponsor their relatives to the country.

No numerical limits exist on the number of Visas available for immediate relatives. It means that Visas can be issued as soon as the necessary paperwork is processed. On the other hand, family preferences have limited Visas available, which results in a more extended waiting period.

Immigration policies can change over time. That is why it is essential to know the most up-to-date information. Since this journey is complex and daunting, seeking the guidance of an attorney for immigration is crucial.

Immigration Attorney Advocate For Your Family's Reunification

Seek The Assistance Of A Green Card Attorney

Securing a family-based Visa involves intricate legal processes, making an immigration attorney indispensable. Their knowledge ensures accurate paperwork, compliance with regulations, and timely submissions, minimizing the risk of delays or denials.

Attorneys at Lincoln-Goldfinch Law navigate the evolving immigration landscape, offering strategic guidance to overcome challenges. They interpret complex laws, address potential issues, and advocate for your case, safeguarding your interests.

With such professional assistance, you gain a knowledgeable ally who streamlines the Visa application. In this way, they provide peace of mind and increase the likelihood of a successful reunion with your family in the United States.


Families move to the United States for various reasons. It could be for economic or healthcare gains or to flee persecution from their home countries. If you plan to reunite with your family in the country, knowing which sponsorship category you belong to is a crucial first step for your relatives to petition you.

In addition, knowing how the U.S. immigration priority system works will help you anticipate the time you need to invest in the petition. Your relative must also perform their duties faithfully as a sponsor, as this will help you ease and blend into the American culture. Lastly, getting the services of an experienced and competent lawyer for immigration raises your chance of success.

Get Help From An U.S Immigration Attorney

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