What Is Family-Based Immigration?
A foreign-born national wishing to enter the United States must first obtain a visa through the U.S. Department of State. While non immigrant visas allow for temporary travel throughout the country, immigrant visas enable the holder to remain in the United States permanently.
To be eligible for an immigrant visa, applicants must generally fall under one of two categories:
- They have specialized knowledge, education or work skills;
- They are family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.
As experienced Georgia immigration attorneys, one of our most in-demand services is family-based immigration. The following explains more about the process and requirements.
What Is An Alien Relative Petition?
The first step in family-based immigration is to fill out Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. Filed through U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), alien relative petitions establish a familial relationship with a U.S. citizen or current green card holder.
Getting approved does not provide any immigration status or other benefits, but it does entitle you to apply for a green card.
Benefits Of Alien Relative Petitions
Family-based immigration is generally less complex than attempting to obtain a visa based on your skills or employment status. Instead of securing a sponsor, which is often difficult and time-consuming, your family member acts in this capacity. Family-based immigration also generally requires less documentation, as you do not have to complete forms through the U.S Department of Labor or other agencies.
Another advantage of family-based immigration is that there are more visas available. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the U.S. may grant up to 675,000 immigrant visas per year. Family-based immigration represents 480,000 of these. Depending on your preference category, there is no limit to the number of immigrant visas granted for family members.
Preference Categories For Alien Relative Petitions
When filing Form I-130, there are two preference categories you may fall into:
- Immediate Relative:
This applies to close family members of U.S. citizens, including spouses, children, parents and siblings. Once approved for an alien resident petition, there is no limit on the number of visas granted in this category.
- Family Preference:
This applies to more distant family relationships of U.S. citizens and spouses or unmarried children of Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR). Alien relative petitions in this category are subject to the 480,000 family-based immigration limit.
Requirements for an Alien Relative Petition
Alien relative petitions (ARP) are available for people who fit in the above preference categories. Those ineligible for an ARP include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, stepchildren or stepparents and in-laws. Supporting documents needed include:
- Proof that your relative/sponsor is a U.S. citizen or current green card holder;
- Proof that a legally valid relationship exists between you, such as a birth certificate or marriage license;
- Proof of any name changes for either you or your family members, such as due to marriage or adoption;
- Proof of nationality of the applicant once approved and when applying for a green card.
ARP Visa Application Process and What’s Next?
Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, can be filed online or via the mail. To avoid denials or delays, our Atlanta family-based immigration lawyers can help you complete your application and troubleshoot any potential roadblocks or problems.
If you belong to a preference category and document the relationship between you and your family, your petition will likely be approved. You can then apply for a green card. If you are currently in the U.S., you can do this through Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
If you are currently residing in another country, you must visit the U.S, Embassy or Consulate. If not in the Immediate Relative category, you may have to wait for a visa to become available. Generally, average approval times for immediate relatives are between five months and a year. Approval for a Family Preference visa could take as long as two years.
What additional proof is required for an adjustment of status?Elizabeth Garvish2022-07-08T14:45:58-04:00 How long is Form I-130 valid?Elizabeth Garvish2022-07-08T14:45:28-04:00 Does approval of Form I-130 grant you a valid status in the U.S., i.e., a green card?Elizabeth Garvish2022-07-08T14:44:56-04:00