Family Petition Lawyer in Newark Helping Clients With the Process of Bringing a Relative to Live in the U.S.
The USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) is responsible for processing applications and issuing family-based green cards. It is estimated that the USCIS received over 659,000 family-based green card applications in 2019, yet an average of 12% of family applications are denied annually. Learn how a family petition for immigration works and the role a family immigration lawyer can play in helping you bring your loved one to the U.S.
What Is a Family Petition for Immigration?
If you are a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident who wishes to bring a family member to live in the United States, you will need to initiate a family petition for immigration. Thanks to the Immigration and Nationality Act, foreigners who have a relationship with a U.S. citizen or resident (such as a spouse or a family member) may be sponsored to immigrate to the country as long as both the foreign relative and the person already living in the country fulfill certain requirements.
Family members are divided into two categories: immediate relatives and family preference. Immediate relatives include spouses, unmarried children under 21, orphans, and parents. Family preference includes married and unmarried children over 21 and their children, spouses, and children of Green Card holders and siblings (along with sibling’s spouses and children). The number of visas available for family preference is limited each fiscal year, while immediate relatives are not limited.
What Are the Requirements for a Family Petition?
In order for someone to petition for a foreign relative to live in the U.S., the petitioner (the person making the request) must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident. It is important to note that a U.S. citizen may petition for a spouse, unmarried children under 21 years old, unmarried children over 21 years old, married children of any age, siblings, or parents. In contrast, a permanent resident can only petition for spouses and unmarried children.
The petitioner is required to establish a relationship with the relative and must be at least 21 years old. In addition, the petitioner must be willing to sponsor the foreign relative, meaning the petitioner will be financially responsible for the beneficiary (the foreign relative). The petitioner must also meet certain income requirements and complete the necessary paperwork to initiate the application process.
How Much Income Do I Need to Sponsor a Family Member?
Immigration laws require petitioners to have an income at or above 125% of the Federal Poverty level. If a petitioner’s sole income is not enough to meet the criteria, the income of another member of the same household can also be added to the petitioner’s income (additional forms may be required).
If you are still unable to meet income requirements after adding another household member’s income to your income, you may ask someone else to be a joint sponsor for your family member. That person must meet all qualifications, such as being a U.S. Citizen, 18 years old or older, living in the U.S., and meeting household income requirements. That means you may be able to ask a relative, a friend, or anyone to be a joint sponsor, as long as they qualify and are willing to share financial liability with you for the sponsored immigrant.
It is important to understand that a sponsor who has signed a form I-864, Affidavit of Support, has a contractual obligation to provide for a sponsored immigrant’s basic financial needs, and in the case of a joint sponsor, that obligation is shared with the primary sponsor. The sponsor’s obligations end only after the sponsored immigrant has completed 40 quarters of work (approximately ten years), becomes a U.S. Citizen, abandons the country, or passes away.
What Are the Steps to Petition for a Family Member to Come to the U.S.?
The process to initiate a family-based petition begins with the U.S. Citizen or legal permanent resident filling out a form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. The form can be filed electronically or by mail, and it must be approved by the USCIS before the petition can proceed to the NVC (National Visa Center).
Once the case is sent to the National Visa Center, the petitioner (the U.S. Citizen) and the applicant (the family member wishing to immigrate) may be asked to provide a variety of documents and pay the required fees. This step may require the submission of the Affidavit of Support along with supporting financial documents, and the applicant may be asked to complete more forms, such as the DS-260. Many civil documents, such as birth certificates and passports, need to be scanned and submitted electronically to the NVC.
If everything is complete, the next step is scheduling an immigrant visa interview at the applicant’s nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy. Interview appointments are based on the availability of each embassy or consulate. It is important to prepare for the interview by bringing all documents and completing a medical examination ahead of time. After your interview, your visa may be approved or denied. It is important to understand that even if your visa is approved, the number of family-preference immigration visas may be limited each year, and you may be subject to a significant waiting period before you can receive your visa.
Do I Need a Family Petition Lawyer?
Bringing your loved one to live with you in the U.S. is a complex process with multiple steps and a seemingly endless stack of paperwork, documents, and forms that need to be completed and submitted the right way, or your case may be delayed or denied. Keeping up with all the requirements and steps to a family-based petition can be overwhelming.
At the Law Office of Elsy Segovia, P.C. in Newark, New Jersey, you can get the guidance and professional help you need to ensure your family-based petition is completed and submitted properly, giving your relative better chances of receiving a visa in a timely manner. If you need help with a family-based petition or have questions, contact our office at 973-313-5794.