A good majority of the people in the United States were not necessarily born here or if they were chances are their parents or grandparents weren’t. One of the great things about this country and its people is the ability to file a family petition for their family members to join them in the U.S. While some petitions can be processed rather quickly, others can take several years to be finalized.
What family immigration visas are available?
The following are a list of the family visas that are available for a U.S. citizen and/or resident to petition for their family:
- Immediate relative petition for U.S. citizen petitioning for spouse, parent or child under 21 years old
- First Preference: Unmarried, adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. Adult means 21 years of age or older.
- Second Preference: Spouses of legal permanent residents, and the unmarried sons and daughters (regardless of age) of legal permanent residents and their children.
- Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, their spouses and their minor children.
- Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens, their spouses and their minor children.
Immediate Relative Petition
An immediate relative is defined as the spouse, minor child under 21 years old or parent of a U.S. citizen. The benefit of being a U.S. citizen allows a visa to be available immediately upon the approval of said visa. This means faster processing times for U.S. citizen petitioners. How fast will depend on many factors such as the service center or field office processing the case as well as the consulate/embassy where the case will be finalized should your family be abroad.
In the U.S.- Adjustment of status
If the immediate family member is in the U.S. it does not matter if they are here illegally to be able to get their lawful permanent residence as long as they can demonstrate 3 things:
- They were lawfully admitted, paroled or inspected by an immigration officer upon entry to the U.S.;
- An immediate visa is available to them; and
- For all other intent and purposes, they are admissible to the U.S.
By meeting the above requirements, they will be able to proceed with a process called “Adjustment of Status,” which means they are adjusting from whatever status they entered the U.S. with to that of a lawful permanent resident. During the adjustment process the immigrating family member can obtain a work permit, social security number, driver’s license and on some occasions a travel permit while the case is pending. After an interview at a local field office if the immigration officer is satisfied that the petitioner and beneficiary have met all the above requirements, they will be granted their lawful permanent residence.
Outside the U.S.- Consular Processing
If outside the U.S., once the petitioning family member files form I-130 Family Petition all parties will need to wait for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to approve the petition. Once approved it will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing. Once the NVC determines that the case is documentarily complete it shall then be forwarded to the U.S. embassy/consulate closest to where the beneficiary resides for a final immigrant visa interview. Upon approval of the visa, once the beneficiary travels to the U.S. and is inspected and admitted by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) they are considered lawful permanent residents.
What are Preference Categories?
Unlike immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, all other family members on the above list of Family Visas are subject to waiting for a visa to become available before they can immigrate to the U.S. The wait for these visas vary greatly depending on what preference category the beneficiary falls into. To manage the waiting times and organize your future plans accordingly, we recommend you view the visa bulletin issued by the U.S. Department of State every 6 months or sooner depending on how much time the beneficiary’s estimated wait time is.
Time and time again we have seen families suffer the consequences of not having the appropriate legal help during the family petitioning process resulting in further delay, financial loss and emotional distress. At Michael Mendez, P.A. we have the expertise and resources to make sure you and your loved ones are able to achieve your immigration goals. Attorney Mendez is one of the leading Family Based Petition Attorneys in Orlando. He has handled complex cases all throughout the state of Florida and other parts of the U.S.
For a consultation with Attorney Mendez concerning your family petition needs, please contact us at 407-250-3333.