In order to promote family reunification, The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, has established processes to allow U.S. citizens to petition to have family members legally enter into the United States and live here permanently. There are several preference categories recognized by the USCIS, and each category has its own filing process and wait times.
Immediate relatives are given special priority and have an unlimited number of visas available to them, meaning that they generally do not have to wait in line for a visa number.
Immediate relatives include:
- Unmarried children under the age of 21
- Parents (if the petitioning US citizen is over the age of 21)
Family Preference Category
If you are sponsoring a family member who does not fit into the above immediate relative category, you may still be able to petition for your relative under the family preference category. But unlike the unlimited number of visas for those who fit into the immediate relative category, Congress has limited the number of visas available to those who fit into the family preference category. An attorney can walk you through the processing times as they differ depending on the category your family member falls into.
The family preference category includes:
- Unmarried children over the age of 21
- Married children of any age
- Brothers and sisters (if the U.S. citizen petitioner is over the age of 21)
In addition to the two family categories listed above, USCIS has also created a special fiancée visa category, which allows U.S. citizens to bring their fiancée living abroad to the United States to marry. Once the visa is issued and your fiancée enters the U.S., you must marry within 90 days. After the wedding you can then file for a change of status with the USCIS, and petition to have your new spouse granted permanent residency.
Removal of Conditions of Residency
When applying for residency based on a marriage that was less than two years old at the time you or your spouse were granted residency status, USCIS will grant you conditional resident status. We can assist in removing these conditions in order to convert your conditional residency to permanent residency.
Waivers of Inadmissibility
In certain circumstances, a beneficiary can apply for a waiver of unlawful presence and obtain LPR status.
This waiver requires proof of extreme hardship to the beneficiary’s US Citizen spouse or parent if the beneficiary is removed from the United States. The beneficiary must also be an immediate relative. Waivers of this type are not available to preference category beneficiaries. The beneficiary cannot have any other bars to admission and will be required to travel outside of the United States and process their visa application at the consulate in their home country.
Other waivers are available for those who have certain other bars to legalizing their status (arriving on false documents, minor criminal history, previous removal from the US etc.) in the United States. A thorough consultation with a licensed attorney is best to determine if a waiver is available for your loved one.
Why Choose Us
Filing for a family based immigrant visa can be a very complicated and detailed process. In order to ensure that you are going about the process correctly so that your case can be adjudicated in your favor, it is best to work with a seasoned immigration attorney. Our attorneys at Lacroix Ramos LLP have the experience and skill needed to make a strong case for the approval of your petition. Mistakes in an application can not only cause long delays but in some circumstances can prevent you or your loved one from immigrating completely.
Contact us today to discuss your case in more detail. Located in White Plains, NY – serving clients in Westchester, Fairfield & New York City.