The family reunification is a key pillar of U.S. immigration law, allowing citizens to petition for their foreign relatives. Now, To whom can a U.S. citizen petition? What is the purpose of a family petition? Today we will give you all the information you need to help your loved ones.
If you need help with your family petition or have questions about your eligibility for any visa or immigration benefit, Jaskot Law can help you. Contact one of our attorneys today and get the legal assistance you need for the success of your immigration process.
What is the purpose of a family petition?
A family petition grants your loved one a place on the waiting list. Once it is your family member’s visa turn, he or she will be eligible for immigration after passing the background check and meeting the admission requirements.
However, please note that a family petition will not allow your loved ones to live or work in the United States. This only serves as evidence of the family relationship to give you priority on the waiting list. Therefore, it is important that you continue the process towards a visa or permanent residency.
To whom can a U.S. citizen petition?
Through a family petition, a U.S. citizen can obtain permanent residency for the following family members:
U.S. citizens may sponsor the permanent residence of their foreign spouses. This petition seeks to reunite legally married couples and facilitate their joint residence in the United States.
Unmarried children under 21 years of age of U.S. citizens have the opportunity to obtain permanent residency immediately, prioritizing family reunification.
Unmarried children over 21 years of age may also be sponsored for permanent residence. However, they are in another preference category, so they must wait longer for their visa category to become available due to high demand.
Citizens over 21 years of age may apply for permanent permanent residency for their parents through a family petition. through a family petition. However, if you obtained the Green Card through SIJ status, then neither of your parents can obtain this benefit.
Married children of U.S. citizens fall into a category similar to that of unmarried children over the age of 21. Therefore, although they are also eligible for a family petition, they must wait until their visa category is available to obtain permanent residence.
The siblings of citizens under 21 years of age fall into the preference category and permanent residence may be requested for them. This family petition has long waiting times due to high demand and limitations on the number of visas available.
Family Preference Categories
The preference categories establish who may be eligible for permanent residence through the family petition of a citizen or permanent resident, thus determining priority in the immigration process.
In the following table you will find the different preference categories and the family members included in each one of them:
|First preference (F1)
|Sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, who are unmarried and 21 years of age or older
|Second preference (F2A)
|Spouses and children (unmarried, under 21 years of age) of lawful permanent residents
|Second preference (F2B)
|Unmarried sons and daughters, 21 years of age or older, of lawful permanent residents
|Third Preference (F3)
|Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
|Fourth preference (F4)
|Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens if the U.S. citizen is 21 years of age or older.
What requirements must a U.S. citizen meet to petition for a relative?
To initiate a family petition, a U.S. citizen must meet the following requirements:
- Type of relationship: Must clearly demonstrate the family relationship to the beneficiary. The relationship must fit into the categories of immediate relative or family preference.
- Place of Residence: The sponsor must maintain his/her primary residence in the United States.
- Financial ability: Willingness and ability to financially support the family member as soon as he/she enters the United States is required. This involves signing an affidavit of support that includes adequate annual income to support not only the applicant, but also the family member and the entire household.
What documents do I need to submit for the family petition?
For a family petition, you must submit the following documentation:
- Form I-130Petition for Alien Relative.
- Proof of the applicant’s U.S. citizenship.
- Evidence of relationship to the family member for whom the application is being made.
- Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (if filed with the I-130 petition).
- Evidence of income or assets sufficient to demonstrate ability to financially support the family member.
- For each separate family member: separate documents and applications, e.g., for parents, siblings, spouse, unmarried children (depending on age and marital status).
- If the relative is already in the U.S. legally: evidence of legal income and, if applicable, Form I-485 for adjustment of status.
Remember that these are general documents, but each particular case may require additional documentation and information. Therefore, it is important to consult an immigration attorney to guide you through the process. At Jaskot Law we can help you. Contact our professionals and take the first step to reunite with your family.
How to file a family petition?
Step 1: Determine eligibility and family relationship
Verify that you are a U.S. citizen and that the family member you wish to sponsor is eligible under the permitted family relationships. These include spouse, unmarried children (married or not), parents, brothers or sisters, depending on age and marital status.
Step 2: Complete and file Form I-130
Download Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. Complete the form by providing accurate information about your family relationship and attach evidence to support your relationship. Then, send the documentation to USCIS following the instructions detailed in the form.
Step 3: Follow-up and waiting
Once the petition is filed, you will receive an acknowledgement of receipt from USCIS. You will have to wait for your application to be processed. Processing times vary, so periodically check the status of your application on the USCIS website for updates.
Step 4: Visa Processing and Adjustment of Status
Depending on the family member category and visa availability, your family member will be notified when it is his or her turn to apply for an immigrant visa. If they are in the United States legally, they may apply for adjustment of status (Form I-485) to become permanent residents at the same time the I-130 is approved.
Remember, these are general steps based on the information provided. Immigration laws and procedures can be complex, so it is advisable to seek legal advice. But don’t worry, at Jaskot Law, we can help you. Speak to an attorney today with our attorneys and take the first step to a successful family petition.
Can my family member stay in the United States while waiting for permanent residency?
No, if your relative is outside the United States, filing a family petition does not allow him/her to live or work in the country. You must wait outside the U.S. to immigrate legally. However, if your spouse, unmarried child under the age of 21, or parent are in the country legally, they may apply for adjustment of status with Form I-130.
What happens after I submit the application?
You will receive an acknowledgement of receipt confirming receipt. If incomplete, it may be rejected or require more information. Once your family petition is approved, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) and notified when it is time to apply for immigrant visas.
What happens to the family of the relative I requested?
In many cases, when it is the family member’s turn for a visa, the spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may apply for the visa. If the relative is already in the U.S., they can adjust status with Form I-485.
How long will it take USCIS to process my application?
Processing time varies according to multiple factors. Check current processing times on the USCIS website or seek the assistance of an immigration attorney to accurately track the progress of your application.
Reuniting with loved ones through a family petition is essential in the context of U.S. immigration law. However, remember that this benefit does not immediately grant the right to live or work in the country, but establishes a priority on the waiting list.
Therefore, it is essential to obtain legal assistance to continue with the process and secure the future of your loved ones in their new home. At Jaskot Law we are here to provide you with the help you need. Contact us today and take the first step towards family reunification. Your family deserves to be together, and we are here to make it happen.