Immigration Based on Family Relationship

  • Is it possible for my family to immigrate based on family relationship?

    If you are a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, your close family members can immigrate based on their relationship to you. Depending on whether you are a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, and the type of your relationship with the family members, applicants fall into different categories, and may have to wait a number of years before they can immigrate.

    Immediate relatives: This category includes; spouses, parents and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of U.S. citizens only. There is no waiting period for immediate relatives, and processing for these visas will be relatively quick.

    First Family Preference: This category includes unmarried adult (over the age of 21) children of U.S. citizens. The waiting period for this category can be between six and seven years.

    Second Family Preference: is divided into two subgroups, 2a and 2b.

    The 2a category is reserved for spouses and unmarried children under 21 of U. S. permanent residents. The waiting period is between four and five years

    The 2b category includes unmarried children of any age of U. S. permanent residents. The waiting period for this category is currently between seven and eight years.

    Third Family Preference: This category is meant for married children of U.S. citizens and the waiting time is about nine to ten years.

    Fourth Family Preference: This category is reserved for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens and the waiting period for visas in this category is thirteen to fourteen years.

  • Are there any other requirements for immigrating to the U.S.?

    Yes, there are several other requirements. For example, most criminal convictions and certain dangerous health conditions may bar a person from being admitted to the U.S. Also, you must prove that you won’t be a financial burden for the U.S. government. Normally, the U.S. relative needs to prove that s/he can support you at 125% above the mandated poverty line, but if the prospective immigrant has substantial resources and assets, they may also be considered.
  • How can I begin applying for immigration on the basis of relationship to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident?

    There are many steps in the process of applying but the first step is for your U.S. relative to file an I-130, Petition for Alien Relative form, with USCIS, including proof of status as a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and relationship to you. Your U.S. relative will be notified once the petition is approved, and the petition will be forwarded to the National Visa Center. When a visa becomes available to you, your U.S. relative will be asked to file an Affidavit of Support, USCIS Form I-864, and pay the applicable fees, after which you will receive instructions from the Department of State regarding filing your application for an immigrant visa, your interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in your country, required documentation, etc.
  • I am a U.S. citizen, and my mother came to visit me in the U.S. on a visitor’s visa. Does she have to go back to her country in order to live with me here in the U.S. permanently?

    No, this is not necessary. Your mother can adjust her status to permanent resident without leaving the country. You need to file a number of forms on her behalf, including an I-130, Petition for Alien Relative; an I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status; a G-325A, Biographical Information; an I-864, Affidavit of Support; as well forms I-765, Application for Employment Authorization; and an I-131, in order to obtain advance parole. This process may be quite complicated, so we recommend that you obtain qualified assistance from an immigration attorney or non-profit agency recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).
  • Can everyone who has a qualifying U.S. relative "adjust status" while in the U.S.? My friend is a permanent resident, and he is getting married to a woman who is here on a visitor’s visa which expires next month. Can they file their paperwork and wait until she becomes eligible?

    No, not everyone can adjust status to permanent residence. Typically, only immediate relatives who entered the U.S. legally can adjust their status because only immediate relatives are excused from maintaining a legal non-immigrant status while waiting for their applications to be approved. If your friend’s fiancée overstays her visitor’s visa, she will be unable to adjust her status and, depending on how long she lives in this country out of status, she may be barred from becoming a permanent resident for up to 10 years. So, it would be a dangerous mistake for her to stay here after her authorized stay expires.