The New York Family Based Immigration Guide was created by Empire Immigration Law to help answer common questions you may have about the immigration process. Call our lawyers for a consultation.
Whether you are trying to enter the country temporarily or permanently, you are likely searching for ways to do so in a legal manner that won’t put you at risk of being deported. Our Buffalo, NY family based immigration lawyer is here to help you through whatever immigration needs you are looking for help with. Please call us today to set up a consultation to get started right away.
Obtaining Lawful Permanent Residency
If you are looking to lawfully reside in the United States permanently, one way to do so is through someone who you are related to that qualifies and is either a permanent resident or a citizen of the United States. Either way, they can help you petition to get permanent residency in the United States, which can eventually lead to you becoming a citizen. With family-based immigration, there are different categories. What category you are going to be in depends on the following factors:
- Whether your relative that is petitioning is a citizen in the US or a legal resident
- What your relation to the petitioner is
There are two types of unlimited family-based immigration. The first is if you are an immediate relative of a citizen of the United States or permanent resident here. If you are an immediate relative, that might mean you were married to someone who is a citizen of the United States or can mean you a widower of a US citizen, you have an unmarried child who is under the age of 21 who is a US citizen, or you are the parent of an adult US citizen. If you are returning to this country you will be considered a returning resident, if you’ve lived in the United States in the past and had legal permanent resident status and you have been abroad for over a year.
There are four categories for limited family-based immigration. The first one is unmarried children of US citizens over the age of 21. The next one is divided into two subsections: one, spouses of legal permanent residence or unmarried children under the age of 21 and two, the second one are unmarried children of legal permanent residence who are over the age of 21. The third group are married children of US citizens and the fourth one is siblings of adult US citizens.
You need to have at least two family members participate in family-based immigration. Those people are the petitioner and the beneficiary. The petitioner has to be a US citizen or a legal permanent resident who is going to sponsor a family member who lives out of the country for a green card. The beneficiary is the family member who lives out of the United States and wants the green card. In some cases there are derivative beneficiaries such as spouses and children who are attached to the person who is the original beneficiary.
Family Preference and Immediate Family
If you are going to go through family-based immigration, it’s going to end up in one of the two categories: immediate relatives or family preference. If you are a spouse, a parent or a child who is unmarried and under the age of 21 and you have a US citizen relative, you would be an immediate relative. In the United States, every single year, there are an unlimited number of these immigrant visas available for the immediate relatives of United States citizens. Any other relationships are considered family preferences. These immigrant visas are limited every year because the law puts a cap on how many green cards can be issued to family preference category immigrants. There are usually long lists for waiting and backlog for family preferences.
Applying for a Green Card
Most family-based immigration processes start with the petitioner who is going to be the lawful permanent resident or a United States citizen submitting a request to the government of the United States to let their family member immigrate into the country. You might be dealing with forms like I-130 or the “Petition for Alien Relative.” The USCIS is going to be handling this case. If you have the I-130 petition, it has the ability to establish that there is a family relationship that would qualify you for this.
Once your petition gets approved and you get a visa number, then you can apply for your green card. There are two ways to apply for the green card: the first is called consular processing and the second is an adjustment of status.
If you are getting consular processing, it means that you have to apply for a green card through the US Embassy or consular office in your home country. This is the most common method for getting a green card. You might be able to do that if you are already in the United States temporarily, say as a student, visitor, or tourist.
Get in touch with our Buffalo, NY family based Immigration Lawyer today for more information.
Getting an Adjustment of Status
If you are looking to get an adjustment of status, we highly recommend you call our Buffalo, NY family based immigration lawyer today to discuss this process. This process might be right for you if you are looking to obtain a green card while you are living in the United States without one. It can be complicated depending on your scenario, so we hope you reach out sooner rather than later as we are sure deportation is a fear that weighs heavy on your mind. It is also important for you to go through this process if you are someone who wants a green card and doesn’t want to have to go back to your home country to get one.
The Types of Family Based Immigration
If you want to stay in the United States for 90 days in order to get married and then apply eventually for a permanent residency or a green card, then you can try to get a K-1 fiancé visa. Your children can get a K-2 visa.
A K-3 visa means that you are married to a US citizen, you have a petition filed by your spouse who is a US citizen, or you want to come to the United States and get lawful permanent residency.
K-4 visas are for people who are under the age of 21 who are unmarried and are the children of a K-3 visa holder.
There are other types of visas that you could use if you are a spouse of a US citizen or a child of someone who entered the United States on a special visa. You could use an F1 or F2, depending on your situation. F1 visas are for students to enter the United States, while F2 visas are for the spouses and children of people who are in an academic program in the United States.
There are a variety of different types of visas for many different family situations. Whether you are married to or would like to be married to a US citizen or you are the child of a US citizen, we can help you figure out which visa is the best option for you.
Marrying a US Citizen
It is common knowledge that when you marry someone who is a citizen of the US you could get a green card. It may seem simple, but the process can be complicated and challenging. An example of that would be if you made errors on your fiancé petition and you thought that your application was not going to go through. We can help you fix these errors to make sure that things run smoothly and you have success.
Once you’ve been married, what you can do either in the States or abroad is go through a marriage interview with a United States citizenship and immigration services representative. The basis of the interview is to find out if you are marrying for a legitimate reason or just getting married so that someone can get a green card.
We can help you prepare for this marriage interview and get you ready so you feel confident and prepared. You just have to make sure you get a call into us to set up a consultation right away before you go through this process. We are here to help.
Recently Asked Family Based Immigration Questions
Can I File for an Adjustment of Status Through Marriage of a U.S. Citizen?
We receive a lot of inquiries from people who recently married U.S. citizens and ask, “Can I adjust my status to become a permanent resident through marriage to a U.S. citizen?” The answer to that question is, yes, you can. You can, but there are eligibility requirements that you must satisfy before you will receive your green card. One of the main requirements in these cases is that you must prove that your marriage is a real marriage— a good-faith marriage that you entered into because you’re in love and not for the purpose of getting your green card.
If you have any questions about the green card application process or any other immigration matters, give us a call.
Can I Marry an Immigrant in the United States?
Recently, we received a phone call from a potential client. She was a U.S. citizen and has a long-term boyfriend. The problem is that her boyfriend does not have lawful status in the United States, and she wanted to know if it was okay to marry him. Her question was, “Can I marry an immigrant in the United States?” The answer to that question is, yes, you can. You can marry an immigrant in the United States.
After you are married, you can then apply for a green card, but you have to do it the right way. There are eligibility requirements that you must meet, including proving that it is a bona fide or good-faith marriage, and not a sham marriage entered into only for the purpose of getting a green card.
If you have any questions about the green card application process, give us a call.
Can I Obtain a Fiancé Petition for a Significant Other if I’ve Never Met Them in Person?
These days, social media and dating sites are more and more common. It’s not uncommon for people to develop a relationship through social media and through these dating sites. One frequent question that we receive from a lot of U.S. citizens is, “Is it required that I meet my significant other in person before sponsoring them for a fiancé visa?” The answer to that question is, yes, it is required.
The government requires you to prove that you’ve met at least one time within the last two years before you can sponsor your significant other for a fiancé visa. If you have any questions about fiancé visas or any other immigration related matters, give us a call.
How Can I Get a Fiancé Visa?
Our office receives a lot of inquiries from U.S. citizens who have fiancés who live outside of the country. These clients often ask how they can get fiancé visas.
The process starts with USCIS. You file the appropriate paperwork with the USCIS. Once this is approved, then USCIS will send the paperwork over to the National Visa Center. At the National Visa Center stage, what you’ll do is you’ll file the non-immigrant visa application, the DS-160. You will also file all the additional required documents with the National Visa Center.
Once everything is satisfactory, the National Visa Center will then forward all of the documents over to the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate, where your fiancé will attend their non-immigrant visa interview. If all goes well, the application will be approved and your fiancé can enter the United States on a K-1 visa. What this means is your fiancé and you will have 90 days to get married. Once you get married within those 90 days, you can then file for adjustment of status and your future spouse will become a lawful permanent resident.
If you have any questions about the fiancé visa process, adjustment of status, or any other immigration related matters, give us a call.
How Long Does It Take for a Fiancé Visa to be Approved?
One of the more frequent inquiries that we receive is about fiancé visas, and one of the main questions that we receive is, “How long does it take to get my fiancé visa application approved?” Normally, this takes between six months to a year.
What you’ll do is you’ll file with USCIS. It’ll then go to the National Visa Center, and then it will be scheduled for an interview with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You have to make sure that you meet all of the eligibility requirements. This means if there are any mistakes or any missing documents, this can cause delays or even denial. For that reason, it’s very important that you work with an experienced immigration attorney.
If you have any questions about the fiancé visa process or adjustment of status, give us a call.
I Am a Permanent Resident, and My Wife Has a Daughter from a Previous Marriage. Can I Sponsor my Stepdaughter for a Green Card?
A client contacted us, telling us his wife has a daughter from a previous marriage and asking if he could sponsor his stepdaughter for permanent residence. The answer to that question is it depends. It depends on when you were married and how old your stepdaughter was at the time.
Under the U.S. immigration laws, a stepchild is treated the same as a biological child, as long as the marriage which created the step relationship took place before the child’s 18th birthday. If the marriage that created the step relationship took place before the child’s 18th birthday, then that child will be treated as a biological child under the immigration laws.
If you have any questions about sponsoring any family members or any other immigration matters, give us a call.
My Son Was Born in the United States and is a U.S. Citizen. Can He Petition for My Wife and I to Get a Green Card?
A client recently contacted us from Canada where he is a citizen. He has a son who is a U.S. citizen, and this man wanted to know if his son could sponsor himself and his wife for green cards. The answer is yes. The son has to be over the age of 21, and also you and your wife cannot have any criminal or immigration violations that would prevent you from coming to the United States.
The process is a little more complicated than that, but the point is that it is possible to come here with your son sponsoring you. If you have any questions about coming to the United States with a green card, or any other immigration related matters, please gives us a call.
What Are My Obligations as a Sponsor?
Clients who are sponsoring applicants for green cards often contact us, asking, “What are my obligations as a sponsor?” What we explain is that, once you file the affidavit of support in support of somebody’s green card application, this is a legal obligation to financially support the green card applicant in the future. The way this most commonly will come up is if the applicant for a green card in the future applies for a means-tested benefit.
If you have any questions about sponsoring a green card applicant or any other immigration related matters, give us a call.
What Documents Do I Need to Apply for Permanent Residency for a Family Member?
Recently, we received a phone call from a potential client who wanted information on the green card application process. He was applying for his family members and his question was about the documents. His question was, “What documents do I need to file if I want to sponsor a family member?” The first thing we told him was every case is different, but you must file documents that prove eligibility. For example, one of the requirements is that you must prove the relationship.
You want to file documents that will prove the exact relationship. For example, if you’re filing for your spouse, you want to file the marriage certificate. You also want to file documents that will show that it’s a real marriage. If you’re filing for a child, you want to file a birth certificate. You want to file identity documents and any other documents that are going to prove all of the other eligibility requirements.
If you have any questions about the documents to submit or to file along with your green card application, please give us a call.
What is a Joint Sponsor?
Recently, we were working with a client who is sponsoring his family to come to the United States. In reviewing this client’s financial information, we realized he would not meet the financial income requirements. We told him he would need a joint sponsor. He naturally asked, “What is a joint sponsor?”
A joint sponsor is somebody who is going to file an I-864, or Affidavit of Support, in addition to yours. The reason for this is to help prove financial support for the green card applicant(s). If you have any questions about this, the green card application process, or any other immigration matters, give us a call.
What is Form I-864, Affidavit of Support?
Not too long ago, we were working with a client who was sponsoring his family for a green card and reviewing all of his documents. One of the documents that we reviewed was a form I-864, Affidavit of Support. Our client asked, “What is form I-864, Affidavit of Support?” What we explained to him was this is a document that’s required in all of the green card applications. By signing this, what you’re doing is you’re affirming that you are financially capable of taking care of the people that you are sponsoring.
If you have any questions about the green card application process or any other immigration matters, give us a call.
What Relatives May I Sponsor for Permanent Residency if I Am a U.S. Citizen?
We receive a lot of phone calls from potential clients. A lot of them are U.S. citizens, and a lot of them want to apply for green cards for their family members. A common question that we receive is, “What family members can I apply for if I’m a U.S. citizen?” If you are a U.S. citizen, you can apply for your spouse, your parents, your children, your siblings, and even your stepchildren, as along as the marriage that create the step relationship took place before the child’s 18th birthday.
If you have any questions about family members that you can sponsor for permanent residency or any other immigration matters, please give us a call.
What Relatives May I Sponsor for Permanent Residency if I Am a U.S Permanent Resident?
We recently had a client in the office. She’s a permanent resident and wanted to know what family members she can sponsor. The question is, “What family members can I sponsor if I am a permanent resident?” For permanent residents, they can only sponsor spouses and unmarried children. They are not able to sponsor parents or siblings.
If you have any questions about family members to sponsor for permanent residence or any other immigration matters, please give us a call.
Who Is Eligible to Sponsor a Relative for a Green Card?
We receive a lot of phone calls from a lot of potential clients. There’s a lot of frequent questions that we receive, and one we hear most is, “Who is eligible to sponsor a relative for a green card?” Really, it comes down to two main questions.
First of all, are you a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident? If the answer to both of these questions is no, then you are not eligible to sponsor anybody for a green card. The next question is what is the relationship to the person that you are sponsoring? U.S. citizens can sponsor their spouses, children, parents, and even siblings for a green card. Permanent residents can sponsor spouses and unmarried children.
If you have any questions about who you can sponsor, the green card application process, or any other immigration matters, give us a call.
Call a Buffalo, NY Family Based Immigration Lawyer Today
If you are looking for help with your family-based immigration matters, please get in touch with our office today to set up your first consultation. Our Buffalo, NY family based immigration lawyer cares deeply about helping you get the results that you need.