The United States allows its citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to sponsor family members who want to get permanent residence in the country.
Family relation in the U.S. is the leading means to immigrate to the country. Many go through a seemingly lengthy process to reunite with their loved ones and live permanently in the U.S.
In fact, family-based immigration accounts for about 65 percent of new legal immigration annually.
But green card family sponsorship also means undergoing a rigid process. Specific qualifications apply to different family-based immigrants, and the process can take time, effort, and resources.
This article gives you an overview of what family-based immigration is and how to get visas if you want to help your family members become U.S. citizens.
What is Family-Based Immigration?
Family immigration plays the primary basis for immigration to the U.S. The immigration law allows its citizens and LPRs to sponsor certain family members for visa applications and be green card holders.
How Many Immigrants Come Through Family Visas?
Many new immigrants come from the successful petitions of their immediate relatives who are U.S. citizens.
About 48 percent of the one million new immigrants in 2016 were immediate kins of permanent residents and legal citizens. Additionally, 20 percent are relatives that fall under the family-based visa categories.
What Is The Process For A Family-Based Green Card?
Green card application for family members and relatives starts with a petition submitted by a U.S. citizen or LPR family member, along with the required documents.
Once the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) accepts Form I-130 or the Petition for Alien Relative, the petitioner, and the applicant need to wait for approval from the USCIS.
When the petition is approved, you can get a visa number from the U.S. consulate or in the U.S. embassy of the family member’s home country.
Going through the process of green card family sponsorship can take time and effort. To avoid the inconvenience brought by incomplete requirements and missing documents, get an immigration lawyer that can handle your situation.
Who Is Eligible For A Family-Based Green Card?
To qualify for a USCIS family-based green card, your family member should fall into any of the categories:
Immediate relative of a U.S. citizen
The U.S citizen’s closest family members can apply for a green card including their spouse, parents, and children by blood or through adoption.
- Unmarried child under 21 of a U.S. citizen
- Parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old
- Orphans adopted abroad
- Orphans to be adopted in the U.S.
Family-based preference categories of U.S. citizens and LPRs
The following are the family-based preference categories permitted for an immigrant visa:
Family Member of a U.S. Citizen
Here are some categories:
- Unmarried son or daughter of a U.S. citizen and at least 21 years old or older
- Married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen
- Sibling of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old
Family Member of a Lawful Permanent Resident
Here are some categories:
- Unmarried child under the age of 21
- Unmarried son or daughter and at least 21 years old or older
Fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen or the fiancé(e)’s child
A U.S citizen’s future spouse and his/her child are allowed to apply for green card.
- Fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen
- Child of a fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen
Widow(er) of a U.S. citizen
The widow or widower family member may apply for a visa but he/she must have been married to the U.S. citizen spouse or LPR at the time of death.
- Widow or widower of a U.S. citizen
VAWA self-petitioner– victim of battery or extreme cruelty
Allows relatives who are victims of abuse file for their immigrant visas.
- Abused spouse
- Abused child (unmarried and under 21 years old)
- Abused parent
U.S. citizens and LPRs cannot petition for a family preference visa or F2A visa for other family members not mentioned above, such as grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and in-laws.
If you are unsure if your family member is qualified for a green card, book a consultation with us to address your concern. We can help you come up with the most suitable solution for your family-based immigration needs.
What Are The Two Types of Family-Based Immigrant Visas?
U.S. immigration grants two types of family-based immigrant visas with specific qualifications. The permits are only for immediate relatives and family members under the family preference categories.
Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas
The following immediate relatives of the U.S citizen or LPR can apply for an immigrant visa:
- Unmarried child below 21 years old
- Orphan adopted abroad
- Orphan for adoption in the U.S.
Family Preference Immigrant Visas
Family preference immigrant visas encompass four categories including:
- Family First Preference. Unmarried sons and daughters and their minor children
- Family Second Preference. (1) Spouses, (2) Minor children, (3) Unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of LPRs
- Family Third Preference. Married children and their spouses and minor children.
- Family Fourth Preference. Siblings and their spouses, and minor children as long as the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years old.
How Long Does It Take To Get A Family-Based Green Card?
The waiting period for granting a green card based on family can last for years and even decades, depending on the applicant’s family ties.
Immediate relatives typically become family sponsor green card holders after meeting the criteria of the U.S. immigration law’s process.
On the other hand, other family members under the family preference category may have to wait for years.
If you need a faster and more convenient family-based immigration process, talk to our consultants at the Law Offices of Fadel A. Ibrahim, PLLC, to learn about your options. Book a consultation with us today.
How Much Does A Family-Based Green Card Cost?
Application for family-based green cards within the United States costs $1,760. If the applicant is living outside the country, the filing fee is $1,200.
Where Do I File My Family-Based Green Card?
You need to file the Form I-130 at the USCIS. If the family member is outside the U.S., the filing for a green card goes through the U.S. embassy or the consulate.
What Are The Required Documents For A Family-Based Immigration Petition?
Form I-130 must be supplied with supporting documents that verify family relations.
- Proof of the sponsor’s U.S. citizenship, such as a birth certificate or green card
- Proof of verified family relation
- Document of change in names of sponsor and the green card applicant
- Document confirming the nationality of the person applying for a green card
These documents seem overwhelming to collate. Law Offices of Fadel A. Ibrahim, PLLC can help you gather these documents and ensure that there is no requirement missed for your family-based visa petition.
Can A Family-Based Green Card Be Rejected?
Yes, family-based green card petitions can be rejected due to different reasons. Incomplete immigration requirements, ineligibility, health issues, and criminal records are some of the most common reasons why some family-based visa applications are denied.
Is There An Interview For A Family-Based Green Card?
One of the appointments that are important for a family category visa is the interview. Family visa green card applicants will receive a notification for an interview schedule with the U.S. Embassy or the consular office where the family member is currently living. For adjustment status, the Form 1-130 petitioners must appear along with the applicant.
Our immigration lawyers at Law Offices of Fadel A. Ibrahim, PLLC, provide orientation on the interview process and how you can ace it smoothly. Talk to us to know more about the basic questions immigration officers may ask you and your family members.
What If I Have A Criminal Record? Can I Still Petition For My Family Member?
Having a criminal record does not disqualify a U.S. citizen or LPR from petitioning for their family members. However, the criminal record may be a factor in the delay of the process.
What Are The Benefits Of Family-Based Immigration?
Family migration brings a multitude of social and economic benefits.
Helps ethnic communities thrive
Ethnic communities in the U.S. have long been vital centers for economic and cultural progress. Allowing foreign family members to enter the U.S. and reunite with their families who are U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents creates a sense of strengthened community and belongingness.
Strengthens financial capabilities
Petitioning a foreign family member entails financial capabilities. By allowing family migration, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents focus on strengthening their finances to prove their capacity, which pulls them up from the federal poverty line.
Vital in promoting ‘care economy’
Immigrants, primarily women, can provide health care and child care which helps the overall well-being of family members. In return, family members tend to improve their performance as productive citizens.
Boosts businesses and community development
Family relations strengthen immigrant communities, which helps in promoting and developing new businesses and investments.
Best Family-Based Immigration Lawyers
Immigration law for family-based green cards can be overwhelming. You need the right expert to guide you and ensure you qualify and submit all the requirements for a smooth and fast process.
Law Offices of Fadel A. Ibrahim, PLLC, is one of the best full-service immigration service providers in Houston, Texas.
As a trusted immigration solutions provider, we help you navigate the long process of family-based immigration. Our family-based immigration lawyer in Houston, Texas provides the best assistance to guide you in each step so your family member can receive their green card at the soonest possible time.
If you need help in family-sponsored immigration, Law Offices of Fadel A. Ibrahim, PLLC, is here to support you in your dream of reuniting with your family members. Book a consultation today!
Last updated on May 2, 2023