While there are many ways to obtain permanent residence in the United States, one of the most common ways is to have a family member petition for you and sponsor you. A U.S. citizen or permanent resident must prove the familial relationship and be able to provide support to their immigrating relatives. We handle many family-based petitions and the various procedures for obtaining residence based on those petitions. How a person enters the United States and many other factors determine what procedure the immigrant will need to follow in order to complete the immigration process.
IMMIGRATION THROUGH FAMILY:
Are you a U.S. citizen?
Immediate Relatives: U.S. Citizens may bring their spouses, children (under 21 and unmarried), and parents to the United States without waiting for a visa to become available.
U.S. citizens may also sponsor their sons and daughters (over 21 and/or married) or siblings (brothers and sisters), but these relatives must wait for a visa to become available.
Fiance Visa. A U.S. citizen may bring his/her fiance to join him/her here in the U.S. After your fiance goes through consular processing in his/her home country, you will be united here in the U.S. The engaged couple then has 90 days from the date of arrival in the United States to get legally married.
Are you a Permanent Resident?
A resident may only petition for his/her spouse and unmarried children and these relatives must wait for a visa to become available. An LPR may not petition for his/her parents, siblings (brothers and sisters) or married children. Once a visa is available for the LPR’s relative, they may consular process in their home country, obtain a visa and enter the United States.
Asylees and Refugees may also petition for their spouses or unmarried children within 2 years of being granted asylum (asylees) or entering the U.S. (refugees). INA § 208(b)(3), INA § 207(c)(2).
PREFERENCE SYSTEM – WAITING FOR THE VISA:
There is a preference system based on the status of the petitioning relative and relationship to the applicant. Spouses, unmarried children, and parents of U.S. citizens do NOT have to wait for a visa once their petition is approved. However, all OTHER relatives fall under the preference categories, and these visas sometimes take awhile, sometimes even several years, to be issued. These categories are as follows:
- Unmarried adult children of U.S. citizens
- Spouses of lawful permanent residents and their unmarried children
- Married children of U.S. citizens
- Siblings of U.S. citizens
We will assist you in processing your family petition as quickly as possible and make sure everything goes smoothly. We will advise you on the documents needed to submit along with other requirements, such as medical exams, background checks and fingerprints, and we will be there to answer all the questions you may have.
Child Status Protection Act (“CSPA”): Because of the severe backlog of petitions and the waiting time for processing of family petitions, USCIS enacted the CSPA into law in 2002. This law states that the determination of whether a child will be eligible as “immediate relative” will be based on the date of the filing of the petition rather than the approval of the petition.
You may check the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin (updated monthly) for an estimate as to how long you may wait for a visa number to become available.
For further information on specific types of visas and their categories, you may click below to be transferred to the USCIS website.