What you will learn:
- What is an immigration visa?
- Groups immediately eligible for visas
- Visa preferences and wait times.
- What are the visa requirements?
- Think towards the future because you can bring your family together
Many immigrants move to America in order to live out the American Dream. We all come from different walks of life and America may be the best place to live out your dreams. With immigration being the forefront of the news, it can be scary. Our current immigration system is broken. However, there are still laws put in place to help you and protect you. Family-based immigration may be an option for you. It’s essential to know the ins and outs of family immigration. You should know if you’re eligible for it as well as the requirements you must meet.
What is an immigration visa?
Family-based immigration is one of the most common forms of immigration and it has been used in the United States for years on end. This is where U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (“LPRs”) (“green card holders”) sponsor certain family members in order to obtain a visa, otherwise known as a green card. There are several requirements the U.S. citizen or LPR must meet in order to be able to sponsor a family-based immigration petition. To petition for a parent or sibling, the United States citizen must be 21 years old or older. To file a petition for their spouse or fiance, the individual must be at least 18 years old.
Groups immediately eligible for visas
The first group are immediate family members. This group is not part of a “preference category,” meaning these applications are eligible for immediate approval. This includes the following:
- Spouses of U.S. citizens *In the alternative, U.S. citizens can file a fiance visa if not yet married. See the section related to Fiance visas.
- Unmarried children of a U.S. citizen under the age of 21.
- Unmarried stepchildren of a U.S. citizen under the age of 21 and the relationship (marriage) occurred prior to the child’s 18th birthday.
- Orphans that were adopted in the US or abroad under the age of 16 (at the time of application) of U.S. citizens.
- Parents of U.S. citizens, as long as the U.S. citizen child is 21 years old or older.
- Step-Parents of U.S. citizens, as long as the U.S. citizen child is 21 years old or older and the relationship (marriage) occurred prior to the child’s 18th birthday.
Here is how the family-based visa preferences are arranged:
- First Preference Visas – Unmarried children of US citizens, 21 years or older
- Second Preference Visas – Unmarried children of permanent residents (LPR) (green card holders). *LPR cannot apply for married children. The LPR must become a U.S. citizen before and then can apply. If an application is filed under this category and the child marries, the petition is terminated.
- Third Preference Visas – Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, 21 years or older.
- Fourth Preference Visa – Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens
What are the visa requirements?
There are several requirements for obtaining family visas. The sponsoring relative must first fill out a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) called a Form I-130 Petition. In this petition, they must be able to legitimize the relationship. During the second phase (after the Form I-130 Petition is approved), the applicant/sponsor must sign the Affidavit of Support which states that they will be financially responsible for the relative(s) seeking the family visa. Federal Tax returns of the applicant must be submitted during this second phase, not the first phase. Therefore, there is time to file any and all overdue taxes. In addition to these requirements, during the second phase, the immigrant must undergo a background check, medical examination, and interview with an immigration officer.
Think towards the future
If you or family members are not in the “immediately eligible” group, then they must wait for the visa to become available. The visa wait times vary from month to month and from country to country. However, do not let this discourage you from applying, because time will pass regardless, and before you know it the visa may become available.
For example, let’s say there is a 10-year wait for your sibling’s visa, who’s currently 15 years old. He may not have an approved application until he’s 25. However, when the visa is available, he can migrate with his entire immediate family, including his spouse and all of his minor unmarried children. The work you do now could bring happiness and success to him as an adult. All of the preference categories include these additional family members.
Immigration is a complex issue. It’s important to know that there are still laws in place to protect you. You don’t have to go through this whole thing alone. You need someone with experience. You need someone to help lift the weight off of your shoulders. Familia America has been dealing with cases like yours for over 40 years with the combined experience of immigration attorney Gloria Cardenas and her incredible staff of dedicated and experienced legal assistants and paralegal. Contact them today at 801-656-9605 or simply fill out this contact form.