If you are already legally living in the United States and want your family to join you, you may have questions about where to go, what documents you need, and what to do. Depending on which family members you hope to have immigrate to the United States, different forms, fees, and rules apply.Hiring a California Immigration Attorney for Family Immigration Issues
Although immigration law is complicated, our experienced immigration attorneys know the rules about family immigration. When you are ready, please contact The Justice Firm locally at 310-914-2444 or Toll-Free at 866-695-6714, or visit us on our website. Our immigration attorneys serve clients in Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange, Ventura, and San Bernardino counties.Becoming a Legal Resident
Individuals from foreign countries, who hope to live permanently in the United States, must apply for an immigrant visa, also known as an "IV." To obtain an immigrant visa, foreign citizens must have a sponsor in the United States. The sponsor needs to be:
- An immediate relative;
- Age 21 or older; and
- Either a U.S. citizen or a Permanent Resident.
There are two types of family-based immigrant visas. If you want to help your family apply for immigrant visas, your status determines which kind of visa pertains to them.Immediate Relative and Family Preference Designations
The law divides family immigration visas into immediate relative visas and family preference visas.Immediate Relative
Foreign citizens could obtain an immediate relative visa if they have at least one close family member who is a United States citizen. If you are a U.S. citizen, you can file an immigrant visa petition for your spouse, children, and parents. If you are applying for your parents, you must be at least 21 years old. Also, regarding children, the children have to be unmarried and under 21 years of age. The U.S. government does not limit the number of individuals who can obtain immediate relative visas.
If you are a US citizen and hope to have a sibling, or a married child (regardless of age), or an unmarried adult child (over 21 years of age) live in the United States, you will want to use a family preference visa.Family Preference
Family preference visas are used when the family member living in the United States is a Permanent Resident or a family member of a US citizen who is more distantly related. Unlike US citizens, Permanent Residents can file a petition for a family preference visa only for their spouse or unmarried children.
U.S. citizens should use this petition if they are applying for a brother or sister, as well as married and adult children. You must be at least 21 years old to file a petition for a brother or sister.
The United States places a yearly limit on the number of foreign citizens who can obtain family preference visas.Application Process
Whether you are a U.S. citizen or a Permanent Resident, you must file Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative). Each family member requires a separate petition. Because the application fee for the petition is $535, submitting them correctly the first time is essential.
Petitions are generally approved, if you can show a relationship between you and the family members. However, getting approval does not grant your family members a green card. Approval only means that your family members are eligible to apply for an immigrant visa. Usually, once the petition is approved, the so-called “consular processing” begins, which means that the petition is forwarded to the appropriate US consulate abroad when a visa becomes available and your family member is notified how to proceed. Your family member’s preference category determines the wait time for an immigrant visa number. As referenced above, there are no visa limits for immediate relatives.
Because the application process is often lengthy and confusing, hiring a qualified immigration attorney can significantly reduce the time and money you spend on gathering documents and filing petitions and applications. For a thorough review of your case, please contact The Justice Firm locally at 310914-2444 or Toll-Free at 866-695-6714, or visit us on our website.