Family Immigration Lawyer in Newark Providing Knowledgeable Legal Counsel for Clients and Their Families Seeking to Live and Work in the U.S.
Bringing your loved ones to live in the United States is an important step for those who have chosen to start a new life in this country. However, the family immigration process is somewhat complex and requires several steps, meaning most applicants would benefit from the legal help and knowledge of an attorney. Learn the answers to common questions about family immigration and see why working with a lawyer is the right choice for your case.
How Does Family-Based Immigration Work in the U.S.?
Family-based immigration is one of the primary bases of immigration to the U.S. A family-based immigration process requires at least two parties – a sponsor (also called petitioner) and a beneficiary (the family member who wishes to obtain a green card). If the beneficiary is married or has children, the spouse and children may qualify as derivative beneficiaries, which means they may be included in the main beneficiary’s application and, if approved, may receive a green card at the same time.
There are two different categories for family-based migrants – immediate relatives and family preference. This is important because depending on which category your family member belongs to, there may be a significant waiting period before they can receive a visa, even after their application is approved. Immediate relatives can receive a visa soon after their application is approved, whereas family preference relatives are subject to a numerical cap that limits the number of visas available per country per year.
How Does a Family-Based Immigration Application Begin?
The petitioner takes the first step to initiate a family-based immigration application by filling out form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative and filing it with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form helps establish the existence of a family relationship. Once the form is approved, the beneficiary may begin the application for a green card (as long as a visa is available).
If the beneficiary is currently outside the United States, their application will be handled by their local U.S. Embassy or consulate. This is when the beneficiary may be asked to submit a variety of forms and pay the processing fees for an immigrant visa. At this stage, the petitioner may also have to provide a form I-864 Affidavit of Support, which is a required step that shows the government the petitioner will be financially responsible for the beneficiary if the beneficiary cannot support themselves. The beneficiary may then be called for an interview. If the consular officer approves the beneficiary to receive a green card, the officer will provide a set of documents called a visa packet. The beneficiary may then travel to the U.S. and present the visa packet to the CBP officer at a port of entry. Once the beneficiary is admitted into the country, they will be given permanent resident status and will receive their green card in the mail in about 45 days.
If your family members are already present in the United States after being lawfully admitted with a valid visa and meeting certain criteria, they may seek an adjustment of status. While the processing time for an adjustment of status with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can take longer than family-based petitions through a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad, it allows the beneficiary to remain in the United States while the case is pending, and if the request is denied, the beneficiary may appeal the decision, whereas decisions issued by an embassy or consulate are final and cannot be appealed. It is best to speak to an attorney before initiating a family-based immigration application to learn which path (consular or adjustment of status) would be best for your situation.
What Are the Requirements for Someone to Be a Sponsor?
A very important step in the process of applying for a family-based immigrant visa is to show the government that the immigrant relative will be sponsored (that is, financially supported) by the petitioner for as long as they are unable to support themselves. In order to do that, the petitioner must also file a form I-864 Affidavit of Support, which establishes a contractual responsibility between the petitioner and the beneficiary.
In order to sponsor an immigrant relative, you must meet certain financial criteria, such as having an income that is at or above 125% of the Federal poverty level. If your income does not meet the requirements, you may include assets such as checking, savings, and investment accounts. You may also add the income of another household member. If that still is not enough to meet the criteria, you may ask someone else (like a friend or a relative) to become a joint sponsor (as long as they can meet all sponsorship requirements separately and are willing to share with you the financial liability for your immigrant relative).
In addition to meeting financial criteria, you must also be a U.S. Citizen or legal permanent resident and be at least 18 years of age. You must also be living in the United States or U.S. Territories at the time you file the affidavit of support.
Can a Legal Permanent Resident Petition Their Siblings to the U.S.?
It is important to note that if you are a legal permanent resident (a green card holder) but have not yet attained citizenship status, you may petition for your spouse and unmarried children to join you in the U.S. However, if you wish to petition for a sibling, a parent, or married children, you must be a U.S. Citizen.
You are also required to be at least 21 years old before you can petition for your parents, brothers, or sisters. It is also important to remember that if, for example, you wish to bring your parents and your siblings to live with you in the United States, they may be subject to different waiting times – immigrant visas for your parents may be available immediately, while visas for your siblings may not be readily available and may be subject to a waiting period.
Why Should I Hire a Family Immigration Attorney for My Case?
The process of filing immigration petitions for your loved ones can be quite complex and require a significant amount of time and attention filling out forms, gathering supporting documents, and ensuring your application is made correctly. This sometimes proves to be an overwhelming task for many people. By working with an attorney, you can rest assured you will be guided in the right direction and can maximize your chances of a successful outcome. Your attorney can assist you with understanding the immigration laws applicable to your case and can help you avoid costly mistakes.
At the Law Office of Elsy Segovia, P.C., our attorneys have helped countless clients in Newark, New Jersey, and surrounding areas to petition for their alien relatives successfully. Whether you just need legal guidance to fill out all the forms and submit your petition, or you have a complicated immigration matter you need help with, you can count on the New Jersey immigration lawyers at the Law Office of Elsy Segovia, P.C. To learn more about how we can help you, reach out to our office at 973-313-5794 and request a no-commitment initial consultation.