Providing Legal Support and Guidance
Being separated from your loved ones can be difficult and take a significant toll on your mental health and emotional well-being. If you have family who are living in another country and you want them to come to the United States, family-based immigration visas are an option. It’s important to understand how these visas work, what will be expected of you as a sponsor, and what restrictions are involved.
If you’re ready to bring your family to the United States so you can enjoy life together, reach out to the law firm of Badmus & Associates. Our team understands how important it is to have those you love close by, and we do everything in our power to help you achieve that goal. Call our office to find out more about our immigration law services and how we can support you.
What Is Family-Based Immigration?
Family-based immigration is an option where U.S. citizens and some Green Card holders can file a petition to bring their close relatives to the United States. With this option, the person in the United States is called the sponsor, and they are responsible for filing the petition. Family-based immigration is the most common way for people to come to America, and hundreds of thousands of people come into the country this way each year.
Family-based immigration includes immediate relative visas and family preference visas. Immediate relative visas aren’t limited in number and are only for the spouse, parent, or child of a U.S. citizen. Family preference visas can also include siblings in some cases, and only a limited number of these are approved each year. Green Card holders are able to file a petition for a family preference visa but only for a spouse or unmarried child.
What Are the Requirements to Sponsor a Family Member for Immigration?
Any time someone is immigrating to the United States, there are specific requirements that must be met. For example, they must be admissible to the United States, have the proper paperwork, and not have any precluding criminal convictions or health issues. However, there are also requirements for the citizen who is sponsoring them.
If you are sponsoring a spouse or a child, you must be 18 years old, be able to prove your relationship with the person immigrating and be able to financially support them. If you are sponsoring a parent or siblings, the same rules apply — except you must be at least 21 years old in this case.
How Do You Make a Petition for a Family Member?
To file a petition to sponsor a family member, you will need to fill out Form I-130, which is the Petition for Alien Relative. This form is filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office. It’s very important that the form be filled out completely and accurately and that the filing fees ($535) be included at the same time. Depending on your situation, an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485) may also need to be submitted.
How Do You Prove That a Family Relationship Is Legitimate?
It’s the responsibility of the sponsor to submit documentation that proves that there is a bona fide family relationship between the sponsor and the person immigrating. For a spouse, you will need to have a copy of the marriage certificate as well as documentation that proves that you have a shared life, such as joint finances or birth certificates for children born from the marriage.
If you are sponsoring your child or a parent, you will need to have a copy of the child’s birth certificate or your birth certificate. The birth certificate must have both the name of the child and the name of the parent. Proving a family relationship with siblings can be more difficult. In general, this is done by showing that both you and your sibling’s birth certificate have at least one parent in common. If the parent in common is the father, you may also need proof of the father’s relationship with the mother, such as a marriage certificate.
What Is the Child Status Protection Act?
Because immigration visas can take so long to process, it sometimes happens that a child who was eligible for family-based immigration ages out of eligibility while waiting for their visa to be processed. The Child Status Protection Act, which went into effect in 2002, was created in an attempt to keep this from happening. In general, a child is defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act as someone who is under the age of 21 and not married. Under the Child Status Protection Act, someone who was immigrating through a family-sponsored visa will continue to be eligible as long as they were under the age of 21 when the petition was filed and don’t get married.
Can Family-Based Immigration Lead to Citizenship?
Once someone has lawful permanent resident status, they are generally eligible to become a naturalized U.S. citizen after 5 years. There are rules for how long you must have remained continuously in the United States as well as other requirements, such as not having any criminal convictions and being able to pass the English and civics tests. As long as you meet these requirements and are willing to go through the process, it is possible to use family-based immigration as a path to citizenship.
If you have a family member who wants to come to the United States, we can help you through the process of filing a petition. Find out more about what this process entails, how long it takes, and what you should expect when you call Badmus & Associates at 214-393-4917 to set up your initial appointment.