Family-based immigration is a process that helps bring family members of US citizens and green card holders into the US. Living apart from family can be challenging, and immigration laws sometimes get in the way. But it is better to stay close to family when you can. The US recognizes the importance of family connections.
If you have a loved one living outside the US, family-based immigration could be one of the ways to bring them into the country. If your loved one is not in the US, you can file an immigration petition. If your petition is accepted, your loved ones may be issued an immigrant visa.
This visa can lead to green cards later. But what is family-based immigration about, and how does it work? Whether you are a US citizen or a green card holder, you will undergo the same process to get an immigrant visa for your eligible family members.
But if you have a loved one who is already in the US, they will have to go through an adjustment of status. The entire process can be really time-consuming to get green cards for people already here, which is why so many people turn to an immigration attorney in Texas for help.
The amount of time you will need to wait depends on a few things: if your loved one is already living here and you are applying for a green card, if you are already a USC or you are a green card holder, where they live (the beneficiary) (including their home country), who you are related to (your family connection), and what their personal circumstances are.
Knowing this in advance can help you plan and determine what different requirements you will need and how long it will take. Here is some vital info to help you understand how to bring your loved ones to the US.
What Is Family-Based Immigration?
If you are a US citizen or a green card holder, you may be able to sponsor someone close to you in your visa application. It is one of the most common types of immigration process. If you are a US citizen or legal resident, you can start the process by filing a petition for foreign relatives (form I-130). You can fill out other forms, but this is how it starts.
There are lots of different family-based visas available, so you can choose one that is right for you and your loved ones. You can consult an immigration attorney in Texas to learn more about what works for you.
1. Eligible family members
It is a common myth that if you move to the US, you can also bring all your loved ones to the US and get them green cards. But it is not like that. You cannot bring all your loved ones to the US or get green cards for all the people in your family outside of the US.
But you can file a family-based petition if you are a US citizen. You can do this if the loved one is an immediate or family preference relative. This means that there are two main categories of loved ones you can petition to bring to the US: those who are immediate family members and those who are family preference.
2. Immediate Family
If you are an American citizen’s immediate relative, you can get an immigrant visa, and you can apply immediately without having to go through the consular process. You will need to be at least 21 to apply. US citizens’ immediate family members can get visas and green cards regardless of how many they have each year.
For example, if you have a spouse and unmarried children under 21 years, their parents (if you are over 21), and if you adopt an orphan child overseas or in the US, you can get green cards for them as a US citizen.
3. Family preference
Family preference beneficiaries get a visa yearly but must wait a long time to get one. There is an annual cap on how many visas can be issued to them, and each country receives an allotment of visas. That means more people apply every year than visas are available, so it can take a while for family preference beneficiaries who want to move to the US to get one.
Some people can wait for years, while others can wait decades. There are four categories of family preference. The first is for single US citizens’ sons and daughters, and the second is for spouses and kids under 21 years and unmarried kids over 21 years old of green card holders.
Kids 21 years or older are in the 2B category, so they usually have to wait longer than other 2A relatives. Third preference groups include US citizens’ married children of any age. Fourth preference groups include US citizens’ brothers and sisters’ spouses and children.
If you are a beneficiary of family preference, you will have to wait a long time for your visa, mainly if you are in a country with a lot of interest in immigrating. Those waiting times can range from a few months to many years. Talking with an immigration attorney in Texas will help you understand your situation better.
How Does The Process Work?
1. I-130 petition stage
Completing form I-130 is the first step in the process. It is a form issued by USCIS that you can download for free. If you are a US citizen or permanent resident, you must prepare and file the petition for Alien Relative. For tips on how to fill it out, talk with an immigration attorney in Texas.
On the form I-130, one of the most important questions is about where the beneficiary will go to adjust their status (only if they are legally in the US, with a few exceptions) or attend the visa interview (at the US consulate or embassy in their home country). If they are outside the US, they must go to the nearest US embassy or consulate processing immigrant visas.
You can usually find that info on the US consulate’s website. If you are filing an I-130 form for a spouse, you must ensure you have copies of documents that prove you are a US citizen or permanent resident (e.g., a passport, a green card, etc.). Also, you must show that the marriage is real (not fake) to get the approval.
For others, you must show that there is a family relationship between you and your beneficiary (e.g., a birth certificate). Executing and submitting form I-130 alongside form I-864 and other supporting documents is a good idea. Ensure you keep copies of all you submit, like forms, documents, etc.
Once USCIS gets your I-130 petition and confirms its completion, they will send you a receipt notice. If they do not think the things you submitted to prove your case are good enough, they will give you an RFE (request for evidence). Once you meet all the requirements, you will get a Notice of Approval. It will also tell you where the case was sent to.
2. The NVC stage
If you are outside the US or a preference relative, your case will be sent to the NVC. They will keep your file until your waiting period ends and visas are available (i.e., their current priority date).
They cannot get into the US immediately (unless they qualify for another visa, but that can be a wrong choice since US immigration might think they are 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. If a visa is available immediately, or if it is available because the beneficiary has a current priority date, then the NVC will get to work. They will give you many forms and instructions. You can contact an immigration attorney in Texas to help with these forms and instructions.
You must fill out an updated form I-864 with all the info you need, plus you must pay the necessary fees. You will be asked to complete form DS-260 (online immigrant visa application and alien registration application).
Once you have filled out all the documents, gone through security checks, and paid all the fees, they will send your case to the consulate your sponsor filled out on form I-130 as the beneficiary’s country. You will then have to undergo a medical exam, get a police check, and do your biometrics. Once that is all done, you will get a notification for a personal interview.
3. Interview stage
The beneficiary must sit down for an interview with a US consular official. Ensure you bring copies of all the things you have submitted and any other proof that you are related to the sponsor. The officer will probably ask many questions about the relationship between you and your sponsor for spouse visas.
They will probably ask if you have had any health issues in the past if you have ever had a criminal offense, and more. If you get approved, you will get a stamp on your passport. It usually takes a couple of weeks after the visa interview for your passport to be stamped.
The process can be confusing, but an immigration attorney in Texas can keep your case on track.
Seeing families reunited with their loved ones in the US is a sight to behold. However, the process can be exhausting and take much work if you need the right help. That is why Gehi and Associates is here to help. We have worked hard to reunite families in the US for many years and have achieved fantastic results.
Our immigration attorneys in Texas can make it happen for you. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us!
1. Can my US citizen kid of 12 years be my sponsor?
No, he cannot apply for your immigration based on your relationship with you as a parent until he is 21 years old.
2. Can I sponsor my parents to the US as a green card holder?
No, you cannot. As a green card holder, you cannot ask your parents to move to work and live in the US. Only US citizens can do that.
3. As a jobless US citizen, can I sponsor my foreign spouse to the US?
Yes, you can. But you will need someone else to help out financially.
4. Can I co-sponsor someone who is not a family member?
Yes, if you meet the other criteria for co-sponsorship.
5. What do I need to do as a co-sponsor?
If you co-sponsor a beneficiary, you must sign an affidavit of support. An affidavit of support is a legal document to show your support for the beneficiary.