Every day, individuals long for the chance to be reunited with their loved ones in the United States. With family sponsorship, you, as a United States citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), can bring your family members to the country. By working with a family immigration attorney, you may be eligible to obtain a green card for your loved one.
The Process of Family Sponsorship
Family sponsored visas, also known as family-based petitions, allow individuals in the United States to sponsor their family members to become permanent residents. The basis of immigration law for family members is the relation they have to a citizen or legal permanent resident. While bringing your family member to the United States is possible, the process is by no means simple. It involves providing evidence, filing forms, and adhering to strict timelines. Fortunately, with the guidance of an experienced family immigration lawyer, you can navigate this complex process and successfully sponsor your family members and/or spouse. Family immigration law is crucial for reuniting and staying with your loved ones. At Garrity Traina, our team of Chicago family immigration lawyers can help you obtain green cards for your family.
Petitioning for Relatives: Eligibility and Requirements
As a U.S. citizen, you must file a petition for your family member who wishes to enter the United States. A family petition lawyer will guide you through the process. To be eligible to sponsor your family member, you must fulfill the following requirements:
- Provide evidence of your U.S. citizenship or Lawful Permanent Resident status.
- Have a qualifying relationship with the individual you are petitioning for.
- Demonstrate that you can financially support the potential immigrant family member at 125% or more above the poverty line.
- File Form I-130 and other necessary family immigration forms.
If you have any questions about your eligibility, our Chicago-based family-based immigration lawyers can assess your qualifications.
Once you confirm your eligibility, you can proceed with the petition for your relative. Green cards for family preference immigration can fall into two categories: immediate relatives and other family preference immigration classifications.
If you are a U.S. citizen, you can sponsor the following family members as immediate relatives:
- Your husband or wife
- Your unmarried children under the age of 21
- Your mother or father if you are 21 years or older
- Adopted child if you adopted your child abroad
- Adopted child to be adopted in the United States
If your relationship with your family member falls under the limited family-based green card category, you will apply under the following preference categories:
- First Preference (F1): You are a U.S. citizen petitioning for unmarried sons and daughters who are 21 years or older.
- Second Preference (F2A): You are a Lawful Permanent Resident sponsoring your spouse and children who are unmarried and younger than 21 years old.
- Second Preference (F2B): You are a Lawful Permanent Resident sponsoring your unmarried sons and daughters who are 21 years and older.
- Third Preference (F3): Your married son and daughter if you are a U.S. citizen.
- Fourth Preference (F4): Your brothers and sisters if you are a U.S. citizen age 21 or above.
The preference level determines the availability of green cards. Consult your family sponsorship lawyer to determine which preference level your family members fall into. If your family member falls into a lower preference category, it is crucial to discuss with your family immigration lawyer when to apply. Due to the high demand, the availability of immigrant visas in certain preference categories depends on the filing date. Applying for a family immigration visa early on increases your chances of attaining a green card for your loved one.
Obtaining a Green Card: Visa Forms and Documentation
Different types of visas are available for family members wishing to enter the U.S. to gain permanent residency with their families. The application process can be confusing due to the various forms involved. The type of immigration benefit you qualify for depends on the type of relative you are sponsoring. Spouses, children, parents, and siblings may petition for permanent residence, commonly known as a Green Card. The following forms must be filled out for the petition:
- Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative
- Form I-485: Application to Register Permanent Residence
- Form I-864: Affidavit of Support
Additional submissions specific to family relationships are also required, such as passport-style photographs, government-issued ID, a copy of your birth certificate, and passport information with your nonimmigrant visa if applicable. Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, and a medical examination and vaccination record (Form I-693) may also be necessary. The timing of submitting your medical form will be determined with your family and immigration lawyer—filing it with your Form I-485 or later in the application process.
Depending on your current nonimmigrant status, additional documentation may be required. As you can see, working with a family law and immigration attorney can be immensely beneficial. Filing all the correct forms and submitting them on time is essential. An experienced family immigration lawyer will help you organize all the necessary paperwork, ensuring that all evidence and documentation are filed in a timely manner.
Petition for Fiancé(e)s and Military Family Members
Fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens residing outside of the United States, as well as their children, are eligible for a fiancé(e) visa. The U.S. citizen must file a petition for their fiancé(e) by completing Form I-129F. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may also petition for a K-3 and K-4 visa by completing Form I-129F or I-130.
For military members and their families, special provisions may be available. Children of military service members may be eligible for expedited or overseas naturalization. Spouses of U.S. citizen service members stationed abroad may also be eligible for expedited naturalization. Requirements for naturalization as a spouse or child of a U.S. service member typically include being 18 or older, proving that your spouse or parent has been stationed abroad for one year or more, being present in the United States as a lawful permanent resident, being present in the U.S. at the time of naturalization, demonstrating good faith and moral character, and having the ability to read, write, and speak English, as well as basic knowledge of U.S. history and government. If you have any questions about military family sponsorship, our family immigration attorneys can provide guidance.
Green Card Maintenance and Immigration Divorce
If you have obtained a green card through family immigration but your marriage ends in divorce, you may still be able to maintain permanent residency. Our immigration and divorce lawyers in Chicago can assist you with any questions regarding your marriage and divorce status as a green card holder. Additionally, if you are in a violent situation, you may be eligible for a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) immigration status. Our immigration and family law attorneys can help you explore your options. Remember, citizenship is possible even without the involvement of an abusive partner.
Contact an Experienced Immigration Attorney Today
If you have any questions regarding immigrant visas and gaining U.S. citizenship for your family members, the Chicago immigration legal team at Garrity Traina is here to help. Contact us today for all your family immigration lawyer needs.