Family Based Immigration

Applying for Family Based Immigration

Family based immigration is one of the most common forms of immigration.

There are many forms of family based immigration. Depending on your situation, you may be able to arrange for family members to immigrate to the United States. Examples of family based immigration include fiancé visas and family immigrant petitions. 

At N400 Harbor Immigration Law, we assist with all types of immigration matters, including family-based immigration. Learn more about the process or contact us for more details.

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What Is Family Based Immigration?

Family Based Immigration in the USA refers to the process of sponsoring certain family members for permanent residence, allowing them to live and work in the country.

This type of immigration is available to US citizens and permanent residents who want to bring spouses, children, parents, and siblings to the US. The process involves submitting an application and meeting specific eligibility requirements, including proving a familial relationship and financial support.

Family based immigration is a significant pathway to US immigration, with over two-thirds of legal immigrants entering the US through family sponsorship.

The US citizen or lawful permanent resident must file a petition on behalf of the family seeking a US visa. The individual filing the petition is the “petitioner”. The family member seeking a visa is the “beneficiary” or “applicant”. 

The petitioner and beneficiary typically need to be immediate relatives. Individuals outside of the immediate family belong to the family preference category. Only a limited number of visas are issued to this group each year. 

Who Qualifies for Family Based Immigration?

Only US citizens and immigrants with lawful permanent resident (LPR) status can petition for family based immigrant visas. Family based immigration is mostly used to grant entry to the US for immediate relatives. US citizens can file immigrant visa petitions on behalf of the following immediate relatives:

Lawful permanent residents can only file petitions for spouses and unmarried sons and daughters. If you are an LPR, you cannot file a petition for a parent, brother, or sister. 

Who Qualifies for Family Based Immigration

The US government also allows certain refugees to help family members immigrate. Refugees admitted within the past two years may qualify to file a petition for an immediate family member to come to the country.

Steps Involved in Family Based Immigration

Family immigration often involves the following steps:

  1. Submit a petition
  2. Pay fees
  3. Supply an affidavit of support
  4. Provide financial documents
  5. Apply online
  6. Scan and submit documents
  7. Complete the visa interview
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Here is a closer look at the steps needed to reunify with a family currently living overseas.

Submit a Petition for Family Immigration

If you are attempting to arrange for a family member to immigrate to the US, you need to fill out Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative). You can submit the petition electronically or by mail. 

Most petitions are filed within the US. However, it’s also possible to file petitions from outside the country in specific situations. For example, US citizens residing in Ghana or the United Kingdom may file a petition from outside the US.

A separate petition is needed for a fiancé visa. If you are a US citizen that wants to arrange for a foreign fiancé to move to the country, you need to file Form I-129F (Petition for Alien Fiancé).

If the USCIS approves the petition, your case will be opened with the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC sends a welcome letter with information on the remaining steps.

Pay Fees and Provide All Required Documents

Family Based Immigration

The NVC requires certain fees and documents. This includes an immigrant visa application processing fee and an affidavit of support fee. It can take up to one week for the National Visa Center to process your payment. 

After the payment is processed, you can start providing the necessary documents, including the affidavit of support. The affidavit states that you are financially responsible for the applicant that you plan to sponsor. Your financial responsibility for the applicant lasts until they become a US citizen or receive at least 40 qualifying work credits.

Evidence of finances is also necessary during the application process. The NVC recommends providing transcripts of past taxes, evidence of income, and any social security administration (SSA) earnings statements. 

After providing the documents, the applicant needs to complete the online visa application. Additional documents are uploaded into the system during this stage. The government may require birth certificates, documentation of adoption, marriage certificates, and other documents that help verify the familial connection between you and the applicant.

Complete the Visa Interview

The applicant must complete a visa interview before being issued a visa. The visa interview is completed in the home country of the applicant at a US embassy or US consulate office. Any spouses and unmarried children immigrating with the family member must be present for the interview. 

If the visa is approved, your family member will receive a visa and their passport will be returned to them. Before they can travel to the US, they need to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee. They must also travel to the US before the visa expires. 

If the visa is denied, the applicant will receive a letter explaining the reason for the denial. A wide range of factors can lead to the USCIS denying a visa application, including inadmissibility to a criminal record or diagnosis of a disease. An immigration attorney from N400 Harbor Immigration Law can help determine the next step, such as filing a waiver.

How to Start Your Family-Based Immigration Journey

If you are interested in moving your family to the United States or arranging for family to join you in the US, the next step is to contact a qualified immigration attorney. Working with an attorney helps ensure that you understand your rights and responsibilities.

Here are some of the reasons to hire an immigration lawyer instead of attempting the process alone:

Prevent errors on your application
Ease the stress of the immigration process
Receive honest advice and recommendations
Learn more about your potential options

At N400 Harbor Immigration Law, we walk you through each step of the application process. We can help increase the chances of reuniting your family in the US and explore each immigration process.

Working with us can also help ease some of the stress of the process. Dealing with matters of immigration can be challenging and stressful. The team at N400 Harbor Immigration Law is ready to listen to your situation and review your options. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Request a consultation today. We can help.

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