How To File A Family-Based Immigrant Visa
For many people, immigrating to the United States is a lifelong dream. By doing so, they will have the opportunity to experience tremendous liberties and freedoms. But to do so, they will have to obtain permanent residency, better known as a "green card." When this is the goal, the way to do so is by family-based immigration, where family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents may obtain legal permanent residence in the United States. To understand the steps involved in obtaining a family immigration visa, as well as how a family based immigration lawyer can help, here are important details to remember.
Filing for a Family-Based Immigrant Visa
As the first step in the process, a relative who is sponsoring the immigrant will file a Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office that serves the area where the petitioner currently lives. In some cases, a U.S. citizen living abroad may file their petition at a U.S. embassy, consulate, or with an overseas USCIS office if they have been residing in that country for at least six months.
When seeking a family immigration visa, it is important to know what constitutes the legal definition of an immediate relative. In these cases, immediate relatives are spouses, parents, and children. In regards to children, a U.S. citizen is allowed to sponsor an adopted child or one that is to be adopted from abroad, as long as the child meets the definition of an orphan as prescribed by immigration law. Since adoptions often involve numerous complexities, it is best to consult an immigration lawyer Pasadena residents know and trust, such as those at Alami Law.
Criteria for Sponsoring a Relative
When deciding to sponsor a relative for immigration to the United States, it is important to consult a family immigration lawyer, since there are specific criteria that must be met before the sponsorship can be approved. To begin with, the sponsor must be able to prove he or she is a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. Along with this, there must be a qualifying relationship between the sponsor and the person they wish to bring to the United States. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the sponsor must not only file the required I-130 Petition for Alien Relative form, but also prove they will be able to support the person or persons being sponsored at a level that meets or exceeds 125% above the poverty line. In the eyes of immigration law, once a sponsor brings a relative to the U.S., they accept full responsibility for their financial support.
Distant Family Green Cards
Along with being able to sponsor spouses, children, and parents for immigration to the United States, sponsors may also be able to help other distant family members obtain a green card. However, this process is much more difficult, since U.S. immigration law imposes fiscal year numerical limitations on how many of these visas will be granted. This can range from 23,400 annually for unmarried and married sons and daughters, and their children, of U.S. citizens to 65,000 brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and children, to 114,000 spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents. Also, note that such relatives as grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws cannot by law sponsor a relative for immigration.
If there are more qualified applicants for a category than available slots, a family immigration visa will then be issued chronologically. Thus, the filing dates become very important, since in some cases applicants may have to wait several years to obtain a visa. Therefore, work closely with a family immigration lawyer to ensure all paperwork is filed as quickly as possible.
Age and Domicile Requirements
While there is no minimum age for filing a family based immigration visa, the petitioner must be at least 18 years old and have a verified domicile in the U.S. before filing an Affidavit of Support, Form I-864.
Green Card Fees
When seeking a green card, there will be fees associated with such things as processing the visa application, medical exams and vaccines, and translation services, so keep this in mind.
In general, the waiting period for immediate relatives is six months to one year. However, this can vary depending on demand and other factors.
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