Living with a family has long been part of the American dream. For centuries, people have come to the United States from around the world to not just seek a better life for themselves, but also for their families.
Unfortunately, for many immigrants, this dream is not yet a reality. Immigration laws and federal agencies such as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) combine to keep many families apart. Especially when an immigrant comes to the United States on his or her own on a work visa, or when a U.S. citizen falls in love while abroad, families may become split across international borders.
A Bolingbrook family immigration lawyer could help to bring families together in the United States. A lawyer could work to explain the different types of family immigration visas and how those visas could lead to permanent legal residency or even United States citizenship.
Family Visas for Immediate Relatives
The most powerful versions of family visas are those that grant instant entry to immediate relatives of United States citizens. The K-1, K-3, and K-4 visas allow a United States citizen to sponsor a relative’s entry into the untied States. These relatives must be either:
- The spouse of a citizen
- A child of the citizen or spouse who is unmarried and under the age of 21
- A parent of a U.S. citizen who is 21 years of age or older
To start the process, a citizen must complete and submit Form I-130, the petition for an alien relative. This application requires proof of a sponsoring person’s citizenship as well as his or her relation to the immigrant. A Bolingbrook family immigration lawyer could help U.S. citizens and their family members to determine their eligibility for an immediate relative visa.
Preference-Based Family Visas
Other family members must wait in line for a visa to enter and live in the United States. If a family member is not a spouse or a minor child, he or she must submit to the USCIS’s preference system. There is a limited number of family visas every year for people who do not fit into the immediate relative category. The higher the level of preference that a person is able to achieve, the better the chances of receiving a visa. There are five levels of preference:
- Unmarried, adult children of U.S. citizens
- Spouses of green card holders and unmarried children of permanent residents
- Unmarried adult children of permanent residents
- Married children of U.S. citizens
- Siblings of adult U.S. citizens
If people receive one of these visas, they enjoy the same rights as immediate family member visa holders. This includes the right to live in the United States for up to two years, to petition for the right to seek employment, and the ability to transition into a legal permanent resident. A Bolingbrook family immigration lawyer could help petitioners to achieve the highest possible level of preference to increase their chances of receiving a visa.
A Bolingbrook Family Immigration Attorney May be Able to Help
Every person deserves the right to live in the United States with his or her family by his or her side. However, these same people must also follow the procedures set down by immigration laws and the USCIS. This applies to situations where U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents are separated from family who live in another country.
The K-visa program, in conjunction with the non-immediate family preference system, controls the distribution of immigrant visas for family members. Spouses and children of U.S. citizens may immediately receive a visa if they follow the proper application process. Adult children, siblings, and spouses of green card holders may need to wait for their turn to come to the United States.
In any event, a Bolingbrook family immigration attorney could help to reunite families. Attorneys could determine which visa program is right for a family and work to complete the necessary paperwork. Contact a Bolingbrook family immigration attorney today to get started.