Family immigration refers to the process of sponsoring a family member to come live in the United States as a permanent resident. People often refer to obtaining a green card through family sponsorship as a “family immigration petition.” If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and you want to bring a family member to the United States, there are a few key things you should know about the family immigration petition process. First and foremost, it is important to understand that not all family relationships are eligible for sponsorship. The U.S. government has strict rules about who can sponsor a family member for a green card. And only certain types of relationships qualify. To file a mistake-free and smooth petition for your family’s US immigration, you can always hire immigration experts at Escobar Law Offices.
What is a Family Immigration Petition?
A U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (LPR) is a request to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) through a family immigration petition to bring certain family members to the United States. The purpose of this petition is to reunite families and to allow the sponsored family member to immigrate to the United States.
Who Can File a Family Immigration Petition?
A U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) can file a family immigration petition to sponsor certain family members for immigration to the United States. This includes spouses, children, parents, and siblings. Additionally, U.S. citizens can also sponsor fiancé(e)s for immigration through a specific type of petition known as a K-1 visa. The process for filing a family immigration petition can be complex, and it is important to understand the specific requirements and eligibility criteria for each type of family member being sponsored.
It is also important to note that there may be limits on the number of family-based visas available each year and that processing times can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case. A U.S. citizen or an LPR who is at least 21 years old can file a family immigration petition. The U.S. citizen or LPR is known as the “petitioner”. And the family member being sponsored is known as the “beneficiary.”
Which Family Members Can Get Sponsorship?
The petitioner can sponsor the following family members:
- Spouse: A U.S. citizen can sponsor their spouse for a green card. An LPR can sponsor their spouse for a green card if they have been married for at least two years.
- Children: A U.S. citizen or an LPR can sponsor their unmarried children, regardless of their age.
- Parents: A U.S. citizen can sponsor their parents for a green card.
- Siblings: U.S. citizen can sponsor their siblings for a green card.
Other Family Members:
If you are in a relationship with someone who does not fall into one of these categories, it may still be possible to sponsor them for a green card through a different process. Such as an employment-based petition or a petition for a fiancé visa. However, these types of petitions are beyond the scope of this article, which is focused specifically on family immigration petitions.
A U.S. citizen or an LPR can sponsor other family members such as aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins, but priority to these relationships is lower and there may be long wait times for visas to become available.
Documents Needed For Petition
Once you have determined that you are eligible to sponsor a family member for a green card. The next step is to gather all of the necessary documentation. This can be a complex and time-consuming process. As the U.S. government requires a wide range of documents to verify the relationship between the sponsor and the sponsored family member. Some of the documents you may need to provide include the following:
- Birth certificates
- Marriage certificates
- Divorce decrees (if applicable)
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent residence (e.g. a copy of your green card or U.S. passport)
- Evidence of your financial ability to support the sponsored family member (e.g. pay stubs, tax returns)
In addition to these documents, you may also need to provide other types of supporting documentation. Such as medical records, police clearance certificates, and military discharge papers. The specific documents required will depend on the nature of your relationship with the sponsored family member and the country in which they currently reside.
How to File a Family Immigration Petition?
Filing a family immigration petition in the United States typically involves several steps. First, the sponsor (U.S. citizen or LPR) must gather and prepare the necessary documentation, including proof of the sponsor’s citizenship or legal status, proof of the family relationship, and any other required forms or supporting documents. Next, the sponsor must file the petition, along with the required fee, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
It is important to note that the sponsor may also need to file additional forms or submit additional documentation depending on the specific circumstances of the case. For example, if the family member being sponsored is currently living outside of the United States, the sponsor may also need to file an Affidavit of Support and submit other documents to the National Visa Center or U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Once you have gathered all of the necessary documentation, the next step is to file the family immigration petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This is done using Form I-130, which is the petition for an alien relative. You will need to submit this form along with all of the supporting documentation and a filing fee.
Application for the Green Card
Once the approval of the petition comes, the next step depends on the beneficiary’s immigration status and location. If the beneficiary is already in the United States and is eligible to apply for a green card, they can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, with the USCIS. If the beneficiary is outside the United States, they will forward the petition to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC). Which will process the case and send it to the appropriate U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Then it is a requirement for the beneficiary to attend an interview at the embassy or consulate to obtain a visa.
Processing Time for Family Immigration Petitions
The processing times for family immigration petitions vary depending on the petitioner’s relationship with the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s country of origin. In general, the processing times are longer for petitions filed by LPRs and for petitions involving beneficiaries from countries with high demand for visas. The current processing times can be checked on the USCIS website.
What is a Priority Date?
The priority date is the date on which the USCIS received the family immigration petition. This data is used to determine when a visa becomes available for the beneficiary. Visa issuance to the beneficiary is as per the order of the visas filed.
To Sum It Up
It’s important to note that the family immigration petition process can be pretty lengthy. And it’s not uncommon for the approval of the petition to take several months or even years. This is due in part to the large volume of petitions that the USCIS receives, as well as the fact that the agency must carefully review each petition to ensure that the petitioner meet all requirements. The wise decision is to add an expert immigration lawyer from Escobar Law Offices and make your work hassle-free.