If you are planning to settle with your family in the United States, then it is important for you to understand the laws and legalities associated with family immigration in the country. Here’s a brief guide to help you understand family immigration specifically and the overall immigration process more generally.
A Limited Number of Family Visas
Before begin the application process, you should note that the U.S. government limits the number of family-based visas that it will issue every year to foreign nationals. Every family-based visas requires two participants: a beneficiary and a petitioner.
The petitioner is a U.S. citizen who will sponsor the beneficiary, a family member who is a foreign national seeking U.S. citizenship or a green card. In some cases, the beneficiary may have children or a spouse. The family immigration process considers them to be derivative beneficiaries. The rules for family immigration regarding different family members will differ. It is essential to fulfill the eligibility criteria to receive an immigration visa.
Two Types of Family Immigration Visas
There are two types of family-based immigration visas for which you may apply: immediate relative visas and family preference visas.
1. Immediate relative visas: These types of visas are available for individuals who share a close familial relationship with the U.S. citizen. If you are closely related to a citizen of the United States, you may be eligible to receive this visa. These are some of the relatives that may fall under this category:
- IR 1: The spouse of the citizen
- IR 2: The child of the U.S. citizen, if they are unmarried and under the age of 23
- IR 3: An orphan who is adopted by a U.S. citizen outside the country
- IR 4: An orphan who is adopted by a U.S. citizen inside the country
- IR 5: The U.S. citizen’s parents
These are some of the relatives that may be granted a visa under this category. If you fall under this category, you may proceed with your application and begin the process of seeking a visa. The process can take time and maybe a bit tricky. You should consider seeking assistance from an experienced attorney to determine your eligibility and understand the conditions for getting approved.
2. Family preference visas: These types of visas are designated for more-distant relatives and are limited in nature. There are certain limitations on these visas, and you would not be able to sponsor relatives beyond those restrictions. Here are some of the relatives that may fall under this category:
- Family first preference (F1): This category includes U.S. citizen’s unmarried children who are 21 or older and the unmarried children’s minor children, if any
- Family second preference (F2): This includes a lawful permanent resident’s spouse and unmarried children
- Family third preference (F3): This preference is given to married children of U.S. citizens, as well as the children of the married children
- Family fourth preference (F4): The final category is for a U.S. citizen’s brothers and sisters who are at least 21 years old
These are some of the categories of relatives who may be eligible to apply for and receive family preference visas. It is important to keep in mind that there are no visa provisions for aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, or grandparents under this category. It means that U.S. citizens will not be able to sponsor these relatives under a family preference visa. The visa will be given according to the preferences and how closely the applicant is related to the U.S. citizen.
The Four Crucial Steps for Getting a Family-Based Visa
An applicant may have to go through a series of steps before they can get approved for their visa. Here are the crucial steps that take place in the process of applying for a family-based visa:
- The process for seeking a family-based visa only begins when a U.S. citizen files a petition for a visa. To file, the U.S. citizen will have to mail a petition on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form-130. They will also have to send a list of necessary documents to prove that the familial relationship is real between the U.S. citizen and the person for whom they are petitioning.
- After the U.S. citizen has filed the petition and submitted the required documentation, the USCIS team will perform its review and then make its decision. Based on your documents and application, they will either approve or reject your application.
- Family preference relatives will have to wait a bit longer. As mentioned above, the U.S. government only grants a limited number of family preference visas each year. Therefore, the person seeking the visa will be shifted onto a waiting list and will have to wait until it is their turn for visa approval.
- U.S. immigrants can start applying for a visa or a green card after USCIS approves their petition. After the visa is available, the applicant will have to apply for permanent residence. This involves providing various documents and completing extensive paperwork. The person will also have to take part in medical examinations and pass certain eligibility criteria.
Get Legal Help for Family Sponsorships
It can be hard to fulfill these four steps. There are so many details that you should keep in mind before you commence the application, and it leaves a great deal of room to make mistakes. This is why it is important to seek legal help and consult an immigration lawyer NJ trusts. At the Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin, we have helped various clients secure a wide range of visas. Our experienced attorneys will help ensure that you put your best foot forward for the immigration officials.