What is family-based immigration?

Are you interested in legally bringing your spouse, child, or other relative to the United States, or are you and your loved one hoping to move to the United States to join your family? The United States has specific immigration laws related to families that are important to be aware of, especially when you’re immigrating with your family. Keep reading to learn more about the family-based immigration process and how De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers can help you and your loved ones navigate the process.

What Is Family-Based Immigration?

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When a non-citizen seeks to live in the United States permanently, they’re required to get an immigration visa. There are several ways you can get a visa, with the most common way being family-based immigration.

Family-based immigration allows United States citizens and lawful permanent residents, also called green card holders, to sponsor a noncitizen family member. The process involves a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, also called the petitioner, submitting an application certifying your familial relationship to your noncitizen family member, also called the beneficiary.

The family-based immigration process is overseen and regulated by the  United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) . This process can sometimes be confusing, time-consuming, and costly. It also requires you to fill out any necessary forms and documents, in addition to featuring frequently changing laws and policies, so having legal guidance can be helpful.

Who Qualifies for Family-Based Immigration?

The eligibility criteria are different depending on the type of relationship between the relatives and the whether the petitioner is a U.S. Citizen or a lawful permanent resident. Typically, a petitioner must be a U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident, at least 21 years old, and sponsoring either an immediate relative or another eligible family member under family preference.

Family-based immigration petitions are divided into two categories: immediate relatives and family preferences. Immediate relatives are those who share a close family relationship with a petitioner who is a U.S. Citizen, such as:

  • Spouses.
  • Unmarried children under 21 years old.
  • Orphans adopted abroad.
  • Orphans to be adopted in the U.S.
  • Parents of U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old.

Immediate relative status does not apply to green cardholders. Family preference status is available for more distant family relationships between immigrants and U.S. citizens, and also for specific family relationships between immigrants and lawful permanent residents. Family preference categories include:

  • Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens who are 21 years old or older.
  • Spouses and unmarried children under 21 of green cardholders.
  • Unmarried sons and daughters, ages 21 or older, of green cardholders.
  • Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
  • Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens if the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years old.

How Long Does the Family-Based Immigration Process Take?

Depending on the petition category, the process can take anywhere from six months to 20 years. Petitions for immediate relatives are typically processed within five to nine months of filing, although they can take longer in some cases. Processing times are shorter because of an unlimited number of visas available.

Petitions for family preference categories have longer wait times depending on their category. Wait times can range from seven years for unmarried children over 21 years of age to 20 years for siblings of U.S. Citizens.

What Forms Do You Need for Family-Based Immigration?

The family-based immigration process primarily involves the following forms:

Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative

The I-130 petition from USCIS requests your beneficiary be allowed to move to the U.S. based on the existence of a qualifying family relationship. You must file a petition for each beneficiary you would like to sponsor. If you would like to sponsor your spouse and minor child, you must complete a petition for both of them.

Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status

If your beneficiary is already in the United States and has a valid immigration visa, they can file Form 1-495 simultaneously with Form I-130.

Form DS-206, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration

If your beneficiary doesn’t have a visa, they must complete Form DS-206 and file the form with the Department of State.

Form I-864, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA

Every person who immigrates based on a relative petition must have a financial sponsor. This Affidavit of Support certifies that you will provide financial support to the beneficiary while they’re in the United States until the beneficiary either becomes a U.S. citizen or has legally worked in the country for a total of 10 years.

Form N-400, Application for Naturalization

Once your I-130 petition is approved and a visa number is available, your beneficiary may apply for a green card by filing Form N-400 with the USCIS.

Additional Forms

You may need other forms based on your and your beneficiary’s unique circumstances. This is where finding an experienced and knowledgeable immigration law attorney can be invaluable to your case.

How Can You Help Me With the Family-Based Immigration Process?

De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers do more than paperwork. We provide bilingual, high-quality, dependable immigration law representation for a range of cases, including citizenship and naturalization. Our attorneys help you and your family through every step of the process, including:

  • Preparing and submitting all necessary forms.
  • Helping you create and manage an account on the USCIS website.
  • Assisting you with gathering the required documents to complete the family-based immigration process and with submitting your application fees.
  • Attending appointments and interviews.
  • Accompanying Nevada residents to USCIS appointments and interviews.
  • Appealing denials by working with you to appeal the decision, attend hearings, and submit supplemental documentation.

De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers has helped hundreds of foreign nationals like you in the Las Vegas and Summerlin areas through any immigration law-related matter, whether it’s a question about the green card application, naturalization process, or another kind of case.

Contact us today to speak with our bilingual, knowledgeable, and dedicated team of over 45 legal professionals and support staff. Our team has been successful in helping countless clients get their United States citizenship and avoid deportation, among other immigration issues.