The Application Process for a Family Petition.
A family petition is a legal way to get your loved ones to the U.S. You are required to be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident for your family members to be eligible for entry. If you are, you can fill out a Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) to sponsor your relative.
As long as you can legally verify how you know the family member, the petition will likely be approved. After the initial approval, your family member can submit paperwork to request legal permanent residence (a green card). The approval timeline can be as little as five to nine months for immediate family members (i.e., parents, spouses, and single children under age 21). There is no maximum number of immediate family members who can be approved.
Family petitions are also available in short supply for extended family members. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) lists the family preference as follows. The higher on the list, the less time it should take for a visa acceptance.
- First family preference (F1): single, age 21+ children of U.S. citizens
- Second family preference (F2A): husbands, wives, and single children below 21 years old of lawful permanent residents
- Second family preference (F2B): single children above 21 years old of lawful permanent residents
- Third family preference (F3): married children of U.S. citizens
- Fourth family preference (F4): siblings of U.S. citizens, provided that the U.S. citizen is above age 21
The USCIS will evaluate your application and all supporting materials to verify the legitimacy of your relationship with the family member. They will then determine if you have provided enough evidence for an approval. Otherwise, they may send a Request for Further Evidence (RFE). The processing will halt until the USCIS gets the requested materials.
Once the petition is approved, those with family preference will go on a waiting list for a visa. This can take years to process. Immediate family members can apply for a green card at any time after the petition approval.
If your family member’s petition is approved, depending on their manner of entry to the United States (lawful or unlawful), they will need to submit an Application for Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) next to become a lawful permanent resident once a visa is accessible. Even if your family member’s entry into the United States was unlawful there may be an opportunity for them to Adjust their Status here in the United States.
If your family member’s entry into the U.S. was unlawful then your family member may still be able to immigrate here to the U.S. through applying at a U.S. Consulate in their respective birth country through an Immigrant Visa application (DS-260). However, beware, that many people that enter into the U.S. unlawfully will be required to file any number of waivers of their inadmissibility (I-601, I-601a, I-212) prior to or after their interview at a foreign U.S. consulate.
Here at Clearwater Law Group, we understand the importance of keeping the whole family together. We will fill out Form I-130, as well as any other forms needed for your case, for you and provide information on how to file, additional forms to include, and where to mail the application when you are finished.
If you have questions during the application process, we are here to answer them for you. Our goal is to make things easy to understand so that you can have the best success with your application and not have to redo work later.
Incomplete paperwork is a common culprit of family petition denials or requests for more information. We will check through your documents to ensure you have all the necessary components. Let us make the process of getting your loved ones to the U.S. a little easier.