US Family Immigration Process
Unifying and keeping immigrant families together is what we do. Our immigration lawyers work tirelessly to find ways to legally re-united immigrant families, even if they are currently in the United States illegally. Family-based immigration petitions are commonly used by immigrant families to bring family members to the U.S. legally and keep family members here who would otherwise be facing deportation. Contact our immigration lawyers today. We can help you solve most immigration problems.
How to Start a Family-Based Immigration Petition
A family-based immigration petition is started by preparing and filing a United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) Form I-130. Only a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident (green card holder) may petition or sponsor a qualifying family member. The sponsor must show that they can financially support the family member and they will need to prove that they are in fact related to the person trying to immigrate. The petitioner will need to supply many documents and additional forms in support of the I-130. If the proper forms, documents and proof of relationship for your specific case are not filed, your cases will be denied or delayed and may cost you additional money. Along with the I-130 and other forms, the petitioner is required to pay the filing fees and processing charges to the USCIS.
One of the best ways for you to save money in the immigration process is by hiring an experienced immigration attorney. An immigration attorney will make sure that your petition is filed correctly and with all the supporting documents you need to prove your case to the USCIS. Your immigration attorney will ensure that things keep moving along with your application and that it gets processed and handled in a timely manner.
Once the United States customs and immigration service has accepted and approved to your petition, the immigration process will move forward. Spouses, parents, and unmarried children under the age of 21 of a US citizen are considered to be “immediate relatives” by the USCIS. If your immediate relatives are already present in the United States legally, their main be no waiting period for them. In fact, they may be eligible for the one-step adjustment process whereby the I-130 form is processed with the adjustment of status form and a green card is immediately issued.
Approval of the Visa Application
If you aren’t an immediate relative of a US citizen then you will be subject to the waiting period of the preference category that you fit into. The waiting period could be anywhere from a few months to many years before the USCIS approves your petition. If your petition has been denied, you may need to file a new petition to determine if the reason for the denial is fixable.
If your petition is approved, the USCIS will forward it to the National Visa Center for additional processing.
If the immigrant is an immediate relative, the National Visa Center will request that the petitioner submit some additional paperwork to them. Most commonly, they will assess the petitioner to submit a form I – 864 to prove that the petitioner has the financial ability to support the immigrant. After the National Visa Center has received the information, they requested from the petitioner they will forward the case to the appropriate US consulate in the immigrants home country.
However, if the immigrant is subject to a preference category, not an immediate relative, the National Visa Center is required to do some additional processing which can add months or even years to the process.
Waiting for the Visa Number to Become Available
Spouses and children of green card holders or the married children or brothers and sisters of US citizens are not eligible for a green card right away. This is because of preference categories and limitations on immigration imposed by the US government. The number of immigrants allowed in under each preference category annually is set by Congress and varies by country. Countries with a high demand for immigration to the United States have the longest wait periods. Countries like Mexico, China and the Philippines have wait periods of more than 10 years in most cases.
The date on which the USCIS receives your petition and accepts it is what’s known as your priority date. That is when the waiting period starts for people who are not immediate relatives. You then must wait until your priority date becomes current before completing the process for your visa.
You can find out what the current priority dates are for each preference category by checking the US visa bulletin. There you can see the date that the petition was submitted and accepted by the USCIS and determine basically how long it will be before your preference date becomes current.
Apply for a Visa or Green Card
after your visa petition has been approved and your preference date has become current, you can then apply for your specific visa or green card. Green card applicants must submit an application for permanent residence which is usually done by way of an immigrant visa application submitted at the US Consulate in the immigrant’s home country.
The National Visa Center in the US consulate, at this point, will usually start sending the immigrant forms that need to be completed and request for documents. The immigrant, with the assistance of their immigration attorney, will usually complete these forms, compile the documents, and submit them to the National Visa Center or US consulate for continued processing.
The immigrant will also receive instructions on how to get the required medical examination and how to schedule a personal immigration interview at the US Consulate.
This entire process is typically called consular processing.
Adjustment of Status
For a lucky few, this process can take place in the United States at a USCIS office in a process known as adjustment of status. This is only available to immigrants who are already living in the United States. Using this process, once the immigrant has received the approval of the I-130 form from the USCIS, they may immediately prepare the paperwork required for the adjustment of status in the United States. The USCIS will contact the immigrant to schedule their personal immigration interview.
Entering the United States Legally
once the consular processing is complete at the US Consulate in the immigrant’s home country, the US consulate will issue an immigrant visa. This is the immigrant’s ticket into the United States legally. After the immigrant has entered the United States legally, the USCIS will issue the official legal permanent resident card also known as a green card. It can take several weeks for the green card to arrive in the mail so be patient. Once you have received the green card it’s important that you always keep the green card on you. This is the way that you prove that you are in the United States legally. You should also make a photocopy of the green card or several copies of it and keep them in a safe place. This will make things easier if your green card is lost.
Speak to a Tustin, CA Immigration Attorney
working with an experienced immigration attorney is the best way to ensure that your immigration petition is handled quickly and cost-effectively. Trying to navigate the United States immigration process on your own is beyond difficult. An immigration attorney can save you months or even years in processing due to needless delays and they know how to keep the fees and processing charges to a minimum. If you’re going to do it, do it right. Contact one of our immigration attorneys today in North Carolina or Tustin California. We really want to help you reunite your family and keep your family together.