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Bringing loved ones to join you in the U.S. permanently is a dream for many current citizens and green card holders. The U.S. government issues thousands of immigration visas yearly to people with family members in the U.S. who can sponsor them.

Although family reunification is one of the goals of this country’s immigration policies, acquiring a family-based immigration permit can be time-consuming and require substantial effort. Fortunately, working with an experienced immigration attorney could ensure you avoid errors that can cause delays. A Cicero family immigration lawyer understands how to use their knowledge and skills to help secure family visas as quickly as the circumstances permit.

Who is Eligible for Family-Based Immigration?

Eligibility for a family immigration visa depends on the closeness of a relationship with a citizen or green card holder. Only relatives who can prove their familial connection can apply for a family-based immigration visa.

Relatives of U.S. Citizens

An American citizen can sponsor his or her parents to immigrate if he or she is 21 or older. A citizen also could sponsor his or her spouse and unmarried children under 21. These family members qualify for an immediate family visa. The U.S. does not limit the number of immediate family visas it issues, so relatives who qualify in this visa category are unlikely to face delays when applying.

Citizens can also sponsor their siblings and children who are over 21 or married. However, these relatives must apply for a family preference visa. The number of these visas is subject to an annual limit, so siblings and children might need to wait years before a visa becomes available.

Relatives of Legal Permanent Residents

Meanwhile, people who hold green cards can also sponsor family members for immigration. These relatives can seek a family preference visa when a permanent resident sponsors them. The U.S. issues only a limited number of family preference visas annually, and a green card holder’s spouse and minor unmarried children get priority. A green card holder also could sponsor his or her adult children, but fewer visas are available for these applicants.

Because applicants in the family preference category often wait a long time before receiving a visa, their sponsors sometimes become citizens while the application is pending. In this case, the sponsor should contact a Cicero attorney immediately. If the applicant is a spouse or minor child, he or she could qualify for an immediate family visa once his or her sponsor is a citizen.

Application Process for a Family-Based Visa

The family member sponsoring the immigrant in question begins the process by submitting a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. This form establishes the familial relationship between the sponsor and the applicant.

If the applicant is already in the U.S., he or she could file their form I-485, Petition for Registration of Permanent Residence or Adjustment of Status at the same time as his or her sponsor files the petition. If the applicant is overseas, he or she must wait for the sponsor’s petition to be approved before submitting their application. A Cicero lawyer could explain the differences between the procedure when the applicant is in the U.S., and when the foreign national applies from his or her current country of residence.

When applying for a family visa, an immigrant’s sponsor must file Form I-864 Affidavit of Support, agreeing to provide financial support for their immigrant family member. The sponsor must then demonstrate that he or she has the means to provide life’s necessities for the family member. The sponsor could find a co-sponsor if he or she cannot prove sufficient income. Our legal team could help with this unique process.

Special Rules for Fiancé Visas

It is important for U.S. citizens to understand that they can sponsor a fiancé to come into the U.S. from another country. The citizen and the fiancé must have spent time together face-to-face within two years of the application for a K-1 visa. Both the citizen sponsor and the fiancé must also be eligible to marry in the U.S.

If the fiancé receives a K-1 visa, he or she must marry the sponsor within 90 days of entering the country. Once the couple has married, the foreign national in need of immigration status can apply for a marriage-based adjustment of status to get a green card. A Cicero attorney could help a couple prepare for the interview with the USCIS officer and compile the necessary supporting documents for a fiancé visa.

Rely on Cicero Attorney for Help with Family Immigration Issues

Although official U.S. policy encourages family reunification, accomplishing it requires knowledge, diligence, and patience. A mistake or misunderstanding during any part of your proceedings with USCIS could delay or defeat an application for a family-based immigration visa.

Fortunately, a Cicero family immigration lawyer has the background and skills to steer you through the process. Reach out today to get started on your case.

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