May people have the dream to come to the United States for better economic prospects, to escape persecution, or to simply live their lives the way they want. Sadly, this dream often comes at the cost of splitting families. Especially in situations where one person comes to the United States for work, he or she may find that family members such as siblings or parents get left behind.
Thankfully, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides multiple methods for United States citizens to sponsor relatives or soon-to-be-married spouses to enter and live in the United States. Each of these family visas has its own applications and specific processes. Failure to follow these procedures could lead to significant delays or an outright denial of a visa.
A Wheaton lawyer could help guide U.S. citizens and their family members through the family visa application process. Attorneys could assist with gathering essential information and effectively apply it to the relevant visa paperwork.
Determining Eligibility for a Family Visa
The first step in bringing any family member to the United States is determining that family member’s eligibility. One thing that all family visa applications must have in common is a sponsoring U.S. citizen. It is that citizen’s relationship to the applicant that determines which application to use.
There are three prominent visas that allow family members or engaged couples legal entry into the United States. These are:
- K-1 visa: U.S. citizens may petition for a fiancé(e) to enter and live in the United States. These people must get married within 90 days of entry. Entry and marriage allow a person to file an immediate petition for a green card.
- K-3 visa: Spouses of U.S. citizens may enter and live in the United States. Here, the citizen sponsors the non-legal resident’s application under Form I-130.
- K-4 visa: Similar to the K-3 visa, these applications ask the USCIS to admit the unmarried children of the K-3 visa applicant. This only applies if the children are under the age of 21.
The direct applications have no quotas, and any U.S. citizen may file a petition at any time. Other visa programs allow citizens to ask the USCIS to grant entry to other relatives. Children of the citizen, spouses of green card holders, and siblings could all gain entry under these visas. However, these people are subject to the immigrant visa quota system and may need to wait in their home countries before gaining entry. A Wheaton lawyer could help determine which visa program applies to a family’s needs.
What to Expect when Pursuing a Family Visa
All family visa applications follow the same general process. The USCIS is the first agency with which a person needs to interact. The USCIS receives the initial application and performs an investigation into the truth of the information provided therein. A local lawyer could help families in Wheaton select the right visa and advise on how to provide true and accurate information on these applications.
Once the USICS approves the family visa application, it sends that form to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC forwards that application to the relevant consulate or embassy in the relative’s home country. That embassy then performs a follow-up investigation that culminates with an in-person interview. In the case of K visas, the embassy may grant the visa on the spot. If the applicant is a sibling or child over the age of 21, they have to wait for a visa to become available.
Ask a Wheaton Lawyer for Help with following the Family Visa Application Process
Any person who wishes to bring a family member into the United States must follow a specific process. This includes filing an application with the USCIS on behalf of the relative. That relative must then submit to an interview at the U.S. consulate in his or her home country to prove his or her fitness to receive these visas.
For many people, there is no waiting period, such as for spouses of U.S. citizens or for people about to be married. For others, such as siblings or adult children, they must wait for a visa to become available.
Working with an experienced legal representative could help you meet your family’s immigration needs. An attorney could help choose the visa that is right for each of your family members and collect the information needed to make a complete application. Contact an attorney today to learn more about the Wheaton family visa application process.