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From education and career opportunities to financial possibilities, there are a number of reasons why a person may wish to live in the United States. However, certain circumstances may create difficulties for an individual seeking to obtain a visa, such as if he or she is not the direct relative of a person living within the U.S.

While someone may not be eligible for an immediate relative visa, he or she may still have the opportunity to apply for a family preference visa instead. By working with a dedicated family immigration lawyer, you could understand how family preference visas in Oak Brook work, as well as receive assistance through each step of the process.

How is a Family-Sponsored Preference Visa Filed?

A family-sponsored preference visa is filed by a US citizen petitioner or a legal permanent residence petitioner. Essentially, these visas are created to allow the petitioner to bring his or her family member into the United States. However, there is a specific number of visas available per year and anyone who falls into these preference lists must wait for a visa to become available. While the amount of allotted wait time can be different between certain countries, the timeframe for each can be found in the Visa Bulletin on the Department of State website.

If a non-immediate family member visits the United States and he or she wants to stay, it may prove beneficial to consult with an attorney to determine the available immigration options. For example, sometimes a family-based visa petition may not be suitable, but a visa focusing on school, or a business may be.

The Application Process Explained

As is typical with all visa cases, this process starts with an application. It is necessary to file Form I-130 to initiate the family preference process. Additionally, a qualifying family member sponsoring an applicant must provide additional details about the foreign national, including the nature of their relationship.

The approval of an application by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is only one step in the process. Once USCIS processes and accepts an application, the next step involves the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC sends an application to the consulate in a foreign national’s home country. The consulate is responsible for scheduling the necessary interview with an applicant. If an interview does not raise any issues, an applicant begins to wait his or her turn to receive a permit. A seasoned lawyer in Oak Brook could guide an individual and his or her sponsor through the steps needed to apply for a family preference visa.

What are the Types of Family Preference Categories?

There are four family preference categories under which a person can obtain citizenship through his or her relatives. People included in Family Preference Category 1 are unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens, which includes people 21 or over.

Category 2 includes spouses and children, as well as unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents. This category has also two sub-categories: F2-A is specifically for spouses and children of permanent residents, while F2-B is for unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents who are 21 years of age or older. Family preference category 3 focuses on married sons and daughters of US citizens, and family preference category 4 deals with brothers and sisters of adult US citizens.

A family member does not necessarily apply to be entered into a family preference category, however. Instead, someone—a US citizen or legal permanent resident—files a petition for the family member. Because the beneficiary of the petition is not considered an immediate relative, he or she does not wait for a visa to become available but are instead automatically put into one of the family preference categories, assuming he or she meets the requirements.

What to Consider if a Person Qualifies for a Higher Family Preference Category

The biggest consideration when one’s situation changes is whether they are eligible to start the process of getting his or her green card. An individual should see whether his or her priority date is on the list and if it is, he or she should consider any other life issues going on during that time.

These are concerns and circumstances that an attorney might help him or her to identify. For example, the individual may want to consider whether he or she has any derivative beneficiaries. If, for instance, someone in an F1-category has been with a partner for a number of years and wants his or her partner to come to the United States, he or she may consider marrying the person and dropping down to the F3 Category—so that his or her partner can immigrate with him or her. Each immigration case is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, fact-by-fact, which is why meeting with a lawyer with experience helping individuals with family preference visas in Oak Brook may be helpful.

How an Attorney Could Help with Family Preference Visas in Oak Brook

Of course, anyone looking to receive a family preference visa should look to not do anything that might get him or her kicked out of the preference category that he or she may be eligible for.

Due to these kinds of potential circumstances, it is always important that if someone has an application open, he or she should do a check-in with an immigration attorney on a yearly basis or before making any major life decisions that might jeopardize his or her immigration application. If you are looking to understand your eligibility for a family preference visa in Oak Brook, reach out to a legal professional today to discuss your options.

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