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Living the “American dream” usually refers to someone who has found success in the United States. The American dream is possible for anyone to achieve, and you can have the opportunity to achieve it too.
If you or your family member is a current United States citizen or Legal Permanent Resident (“green card” holder) looking to provide the opportunity for you or your family members to also become Legal Permanent Residents, you have the opportunity to do so through a sponsorship system referred to as “family-based immigration.”
If you’re seeking this sponsorship, you must contact an experienced immigration attorney to successfully help you throughout the process. The immigration laws are complex and full of loopholes. One misstep can imperil an otherwise good case.What is Family-Based Immigration?
Family-based immigration is when a foreign national is seeking permanent legal residence in the United States by way of sponsorship from a relative who is either a U.S. citizen or a current green card holder (LPR). The rationale behind family-based immigration is that there is a proven positive impact on business and community developments and improvements from family-based immigration. Family ties promote societal integration which facilitates an opportunity for growth on a socio-economic level. Many immigrants have become industry leaders in technology, academics and finance.
If you’re seeking to sponsor your family member(s) into the states, you must be at least 21 years old in addition to either holding U.S. citizenship or a green card. Further, you must provide the government evidence of your relationship to prove eligibility.
All foreign nationals seeking to live permanently in the U.S. must obtain an immigrant visa to determine their eligibility to do so. Immigrant visas can be obtained through an employer or through family. There are approximately 480,000 family-based visas available per year.
The two types of family-based immigrant visas are:
- Immediate Relative: Close family relationships (spouse, child, parent) in which the number of immigrants in this group is not limited to the fiscal year quota.
- Family Preference: Distant family relationships in which the number of immigrants in this group is limited to the fiscal year quota.
As a U.S. citizen, you can sponsor immediate relatives to become Legal Permanent Residents which include:
- Unmarried sons/daughters under 21 years of age
There is no fiscal year quota on the number of visas for relatives in this category, which means a waiting period of several years may not occur.Family Preference Immigrant Visa
Non-immediate family members still have the opportunity to be sponsored, but some receive greater preference over others and are categorized as:
- First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons/daughters, over 21 years of age, of a U.S. citizen
- Second Preference (F2A): Spouses and unmarried sons/daughters, under 21 years of age, of a Legal Permanent Resident
- Second Preference (F2B): Unmarried sons/daughters, over 21 years of age, of a Legal Permanent Resident
- Third Preference (F3): Married sons/daughters, regardless of age, of a U.S. citizen
- Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers/sisters of a U.S. citizen over the age of 21
There is an allotted fiscal year quota on the number of visas for relatives in this category. Therefore, the waiting period could take several years – even up to 20 years.What is the Process of Family-Based Immigration?
There are approximately 6 steps in the immigrant visa process. The processing time usually takes anywhere between 6-12 months.Step 1: Submit Petition
You must file a Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The current fee for filing Form I-130 is $535. Filing fees are always subject to change depending upon the government.Step 2: Receive Approval From USCIS and Begin National Visa Center Processing
After receiving approval from USCIS, the National Visa Center (NVC) will begin the process of creating your “case” in the system. You must submit the required fees, form, and documents. The required processing fee is currently $325.Step 3: Complete Affidavit of Support and Financial Documentation
Complete and submit an Affidavit of Support, Form I-864, to legally accept financial responsibility for the family member(s) you will be sponsoring to live in the U.S. In addition, you must provide financial documentation as proof of sufficient income.Step 4: Complete Online Visa Application Form DS-260
You and each sponsored family member must complete the Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration, Form DS-260.Step 5: Collect, Scan, and Submit Required Civil Documents
You and each sponsored family member must collect the required civil documents issued from the official issuing authorities in the country of origin. Any documents not written in English must be translated and certified by the translator. You must scan and submit documents online.Step 6: the Interview
If approved for the interview, you and each sponsored family member must complete a medical examination from an authorized physician and gather all supporting documents required for the interview (original/certified copy of submitted civil documents and Public Charge Questionnaire, Form DS-5540).
If the visa is approved post-interview: you will receive information on what to do next.
If the visa is denied post-interview: you will be informed of your ineligibility and additionally your ability to apply for a denial waiver.