family reunification

Family based immigration

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The lawyers at Gallardo Immigration Law are very experienced in all areas of immigration law. If you or a loved one seeks immigration to the United States, you can benefit from the legal counsel of a family based immigration lawyer. An immigration attorney can help you understand the immigration process and fight for your family’s right to reside in U.S.

What is family based immigration?

Family based immigration is the process of becoming a U.S. permanent resident through several family relations. Legal permanent residency can be achieved with family-based immigration .

If you have a loved one who is a United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident you will have the opportunity to get a green card through family reunification.

Immediate relatives can immigrate to the United States without being limited by numerical restrictions, in contrast with other close family members of United States citizens or permanent U.S. residents. Family based immigration law allows the individual apply for the permanent resident status without having to wait. Other family members of permanent residents or United States citizens are categorized in a few groups called “preferences” which have a numerical quota per year to limit the amount of immigrants admitted into our country.

Looking for a family based immigration lawyer

Finding a good family based immigration lawyer is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Just like in any other field of law, an immigration attorney who is experienced in every aspect of immigration law can help you win your case, file the required documents, and help you with any other action you pursue.

Hiring an experienced family immigration lawyer

You should make sure the immigration attorney working on your case has experience with family reunification and cases similar to yours. You can also find out about your lawyer’s background, school they attended, where they took their bar exam, if they belong to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), or anything else that will give him or her some credibility.

Need help with Immigration issues?

Filing a family petition

In order to petition for a family member to obtain a green card of permanent residence, you start by first filing Petition for Alien Relative. This form helps establish the type of family relationship between you and your relative. Sometimes this form can be filed with a permanent residence application or Application to Register Permanent Residence. Among the relatives you can petition for are spouses of U.S. citizens, U.S. citizens children unmarried and under 21, and parents of U.S. citizens.

Visas are always available for immediate relatives. Family members who are not immediate relatives have numerical limits for these visa categories which means that only a limited amount of visas are issues each year therefore there will be a significant waiting period involved after the application has been submitted.

thE I-130 petition Form

The 1-30 petition is a form, which citizens or lawful residents of the United States need to fill out in order to demonstrate their relationship to any foreign relatives who want to immigrate to the United States. Family members who wish to apply for an immigrant visa, or perhaps they want to adjust their status to a lawful permanent resident, have to wait until there is a visa number available for them.

Family of U.S. Citizens getting a green card while inside or outside U.S.

Individuals who are still in the United States and are on one of the particular categories of relatives of a U.S. citizen generally become a permanent resident or get a green card in two steps:

The family member who is a U.S. citizen will first file the Form 1-30 or Petition for Alien Relative for the family member they wish to claim. This form must first be approved. In order to become current you must first wait for your priority date in your immigration visa category. The priority date is when the form is properly filed by a U.S. citizen relative on your behalf.

Secondly, once the priority day is established, you can file for Adjustment of Status (Form I-485). This is the process required for you to become a Permanent Resident.

Those individuals who are outside of the United States and are in one of the relatives of U.S. citizen’s categories can use consular processing in order to become a permanent resident. A visa is issued by the U.S. Department of State on an approved Form I-130 petition when a visa is available. If the visa is approved, you will be able to travel with this visa and become an official permanent resident when admitted at a United States entry or port.

What are K-3/K-4 Nonimmigrant Visas?

The alien spouse of a U.S. citizen and his or her minor children are allowed by immigration law to be admitted to the United States as nonimmigrants while they wait for the settlement of a Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. This also helps them find a job or be authorized to work in the U.S. while they are waiting. Before applying for a K-3 nonimmigrant visa, you should understand the limitations of the K-3/K-4 nonimmigrant visas and the benefits it can provide. A lawyer from Gallardo  Immigration Law can explain to you in details how these visas work.

What is a fiancé (e) K-1 nonimmigrant Visa ?

This visa is for the foreign-citizen fiancé of a U.S. citizen and it allows the foreign-citizen husband or wife-to-be to travel to U.S. in order to marry the United States citizen sponsor within the period of 90 days of arrival. The immigrant will then apply for adjustment of status to a permanent resident (LPR). Since the fiancé (e) visa allows the applicant to immigrate to United States and marry a United States citizen right after they arrive, the immigrant must first meet some immigrant visa requirements.

Which relatives you can petition for?

If you are a United States citizen, you may apply for these relatives, as long as the relationship can be proved:

  • Spouse
  • Children who are unmarried 21 years of age or younger
  • A son or daughter who is unmarried
  • Married children of any age
  • A brother or a sister of at least 21 years of age
  • Mother or father at least 21 years old

A lawful permanent resident can petition the following relatives:

  • Husband or wife
  • Unmarried children under 21 years of age

There are other additional categories that may qualify. You can find out more about it with the help of a family based immigration lawyer from Gallardo.

Green Card Holder’s Eligibility

Family Based

In order to promote family unity and harmony, immigration law permits Untied States residents (green card holders) to petition for some qualifying relatives to come and live permanently in U.S. Permanent residents can petition for their spouses and unmarried children of any age to immigrate to U.S. The congress has restricted the number of relatives who can immigrate yearly under these categories. This means that the immigrant will have to wait for a period of time before a visa number is available. If the relationship qualifies the relative as an eligible permanent resident, then he or she becomes something called “family preference category.”

Among some relationships that qualify are:

  • Parents of U.S. citizens
  • Spouses of U.S. citizens
  • Unmarried children less than 21 years of age

The remaining family-based categories will have to wait for a visa to become available before they have the chance to apply for a permanent residency. These categories include:

  • First preference: Sons and daughters of Untied States citizens who are unmarried and are 21 years old or older.
  • Second preference A: Unmarried children of permanent residents and spouses of permanent residents under 21 years of age
  • Second preference B: Unmarried children of permanent residents
  • Third preference: United States citizens’ married sons and daughters of, spouses and minor children.

Refugee and Asylum Status Based

An individual admitted to U.S. as a refugee or the qualifying child or spouse needs to apply for a green card one year after they enter U.S. If the person was granted asylum in U.S. or is a qualifying spouse or the asylee child he or she can apply for a permanent residence one year after the asylum status has been granted. If you need more information on green card eligibility and asylees, contact our family immigration lawyers.

Family based immigration processing time

Waiting periods can vary greatly according to a few factors which may include the year of the application and the immigrant’s country of origin or nationality. Applicants under the Immediate Relatives category have to wait approximately between 6 to 12 months.

The following information applies to the Family Preference categories:

  • Family 1st Preference: Unmarried immigrants who have at least one U.S. citizen parent. The waiting period for this category is about 2 years for all countries, except in Mexico which is about 5 years and in the Philippines about 11 years.
  • Family 2nd Preference: Unmarried children or spouses of green card holders generally wait 6 years for 2B and 4 years for 2A.
  • Family 3rd Preference: This category is for married children of citizens and the minimum waiting period is of 3 years except in the Philippines 11 years and Mexico approximately 11 years.
  • Family 4th Preference: This is for siblings and the waiting period is 10 years except the Philippines, which is 19 years.
  • Family 5th Preference: This is the Fiancé Visa and it takes between 8 to 12 months.

Approval of a Visa Petition

After the petition has been approved, it is then sent to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) in order to be pre-processed. The petition will most likely become current within one year and the NVC will begin pre-processing with collecting forms, fees, and any other documents needed from sponsors or petitioners together with immigrant visa applicant (s). The NVC notify the applicant when his or her case becomes current and will request that you start working on your next steps

Obtain professional guidance from a family immigration lawyer

Gallardo Immigration Law has a team of experienced lawyers who strive to provide effective legal solutions for our community across the nation. A family based immigration lawyer can provide you with the knowledge, guidance and representation you need to work on your case. We can advise you on any immigration question or concerns you may have.


Questions and Answers about Petition for Alien Relative

Who is ineligible for a family based green card?

These are some of the categories that will not allow a person file for a family based green card:

  • An adoptive child or parent when the adoption happened before the child’s 16th birthday or if the child hasn’t been under the parent’s legal custody for a minimum of 2 years.
  • A natural parent, if the citizen children obtained the residence through adoption.
  • A stepchild or stepparent if the parent’s marriage took place before the child’s 18th birthday.
  • A husband or a wife whose marriage was not consummated or one of the spouses wasn’t physically present at the marriage ceremony.

What documents must be prepared in order for a U.S. citizen to submit an immigration petition for his or her alien spouse?

The following documents need to be prepared:

  • The Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130 with all the necessary document
  • A birth certificate copy or U.S. passport
  • Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship
  • Signed G-325A’s for you and your spouse
  • Marriage certificate copy
  • Divorce and annulment decrees, death certificates, etc.
  • Two recent color photographs of your spouse and two of you

I’m filing a petition (Form I-130) for my son who will turn 21, when should I submit the petition?

Your son will continue to be considered a child of a USC for immigration purposes before he turns 21. For more details about Family-based immigration “Age Out” ask a family based immigration lawyer from Gallardo Immigration Law.

I am over 18 years of age, and a U.S citizen. May I apply for immigration for my alien sister?

You are not eligible to file, as a USC, for the immigration of your sister. You need to be at least 21 years of age in order to do that.

What happens if the beneficiary needs to go overseas while he or she waits on the green card?

It can take about two years to receive the green card. The beneficiary can apply for an Advance Parole during the waiting period in order to be able to travel overseas and be able to come back to U.S. without affecting the green card application process. The Advance Parole only requires that the recipient maintain a legal status during his or her state in the U.S.

How can I know if my assets are enough to meet the requirements for financial support and what evidence may I submit?

The value of your assets will have to exceed 5 times the poverty lines less any offsetting liabilities minus the income of the sponsors. Some common evidences of assets are bank statements, bonds, stocks, personal property, etc..

Reunite with your loved ones

Don’t wait any longer to bring your family together. Contact us to initiate a family-based petition


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