A lot of people in the US have family members who live in different countries, and they are wondering if they can bring them over. Yes, it is possible. If you are an American citizen or permanent resident who has family living outside the US, you can apply for an immigrant visa to help them move to the US.
It is the first step to getting a green card, as part of the US policy to reunite families. Green cards are the official documents that let you live and work in the U.S. as a permanent resident.
But how do you get green cards for your relatives outside the US? The same basic steps apply whether you are a US citizen or a legal permanent resident. When it comes to green card petitioning, it is important to pay attention to every detail. That is why you will need an immigration lawyer to help you out.
The amount of time it takes depends on a bunch of things, like your current immigration status, where the relative lives, family connections between you and your relative, and the relative’s personal situation. If you do not know how to do it, you will not get the best out of the process.
So, here are a few things you need to know about the process.
Which relatives can you help get green cards?
There is a common misconception that if one immigrant moves to the US, they can get green cards for their whole family (that is “chain migration”). But the reality is much more limited and complicated. You cannot get green cards for all your relatives outside the US.
The relatives you can petition for and help get green cards come under two groups. These are immediate relatives and family preference relatives. If you are an immediate relative of an American citizen, you can apply for an immigrant visa. Immediate relatives include spouses, kids, parents, and even widows and widowers.
You can apply for a visa right away, so you do not have to wait for a consular process in your home country. You will need to be 21 or older to apply. There are different family preference groups. The first one is for single sons and daughters of US citizens of any age.
The second preference covers spouses, kids under 21, and unmarried children of permanent residents above 21. US citizens’ married kids of any age are the third preference. The fourth preference groups are brothers and sisters of US citizens. This includes the spouses and kids of such US citizen’s brothers and sisters.
If you are a family preference beneficiary, you will have to wait a long time to get your visa, especially if you are in a country with a lot of people wanting to immigrate. These waiting times can be as short as a few months or as long as many years.
You can talk with an immigration attorney in Queens for more clarification on the relatives you can help get US green cards.
How do you begin the process?
If you are a US citizen or a permanent resident filing a USCIS petition for alien relatives, you will need to fill out form I-130. It is a form that requires documents to prove your immigration status and family connections.
You will also need to provide supporting documents like birth certificates and marriage certificates and proof that the marriage is real. You will need to contact the person in charge of processing your petition and ensure you keep copies of all your submissions.
If the submitted documents are not good enough, USCIS will send you a receipt notice, and if they are not good enough, they will send you a Request for Evidence (RFE). Once you meet the requirements, you will get a USCIS approval notice that tells you where the case is being forwarded.
It is a good idea to seek the help of an immigration attorney in Queens to help you keep track of your case. For relatives outside the US or a preference relative, your case will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC). They will keep your file until the waiting period ends and you get a visa.
Your relative cannot get into the US immediately (unless they qualify for another visa, but that can be tricky since the USCIS might think your relative is just looking for a quick way to get into the US and then stay there forever).
Once your petition is filed, it becomes your “priority date.” The US Department of State posts the “priority date” in the Visa Bulletin every month.
The NVC will process the visa case based on the priority date. You will need to update form I-864 and pay the fees. You will be asked to fill out form DS-260 (online immigrant visa application and alien registration application).
After the forms have been filled out and submitted, the relative will be sent to a consulate for medical checks, police checks, and fingerprinting. Then, your relative will have to attend a face-to-face interview.
Your relative has to go to an interview with a US consular officer and bring copies of their paperwork and proof that they have a family connection with you. The official will ask questions about their personal relationship and if they meet the requirements.
If everything checks out, the visa is approved, and the passport is stamped with the status of the immigrant and the approval date. The US embassy usually stamps the passport within a few weeks. Your relative will need the guidance of an immigration attorney in Queens to prepare for the interview.
The arrival of your relative at a US port of entry is the final step in the immigration process. Even though the visa has been approved by the US Embassy, the final interview is with a CBP agent. They will check if you are actually allowed to enter the country.
They might ask you about any criminal convictions you have had, if you have a serious illness, or if you have ever been arrested for immigration violations. So make sure your relative is careful about what they say, and do not hesitate to talk to an immigration attorney in Queens if you have got any last minute questions.
After entering the US, steps can be taken to get a green card for the relative. An immigration attorney in Queens can guide you through these steps. Then, the permanent resident card (I-551) will be sent to your relative within a few weeks of their arrival in the US.
Seek Professional Legal Help
It is such a beautiful sight to see families reuniting with their foreign relatives in the US. But the journey to achieving this feat could be tiring and fruitless without the right help.
At Gehi and Associates, we understand how important it is for families to reunite in the US and have put in great efforts to help many families reunite in the US. Our immigration attorney in Queens will help you sort out everything you need to get the best out of the process at an affordable cost.
Get in touch with us now!