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How Does the Family Visa Process in U.S. Work?

How Does the Family Visa Process in U.S. Work?

By Julie Sparks in Immigration | Visas and Green Cards | on 2022-02-03 13:45:37

A U.S. citizen or a lawfully admitted permanent resident can sponsor a qualifying relative to obtain LPR status. This family-based immigration is classified into two categories with several subcategories, and a family & marriage visa Lawyer can help you navigate this process.

Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens

This is the most desired category through which you can obtain a Green Card.  To Clarify, there is no waiting time for the Green Card beyond normal processing time. To get a Green Card under this category, you must show that you have a qualifying family relationship with a U.S. citizen or LPR for a family visa. These relatives include the following: 

  • spouses of U.S. citizens, including same-sex couples if their marriage is legal in the state or country where the marriage took place
  • unmarried children who are under the age of 21 and have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen
  • parents of U.S. citizens, if their son or daughter sponsoring them for the green card is 21 years or older

In addition, this category is the fastest under which one can obtain permanent residency in the United States. This is because, unlike the other family-based immigration visa categories, immigrant visas (green cards) obtained under this category are unlimited. 

At J. Sparks Law Firm, we have experienced lawyers who ensure that petitions and applications for our clients are properly filed to avoid any unnecessary delay in processing that routinely happens if petitions and applications filed are wrong or have errors.

Besides immediate family members

Besides immediate family members, certain other qualified close family members of U.S. citizens or permanent residents are also eligible to apply for a green card under a preference system that categorizes family-based immigration into several subcategories as follows: 

  • First Family Preference (F1). Unmarried children of a U.S. citizen that have attained the age of 21 or older
  • Second Family Preference (F2): Spouses and unmarried children of LPRs. Who are under the age of 21 or unmarried children who are 21 years old or older.
  • Third Family Preference (F3). Married persons who are of any age and have at least one U.S. citizen parent.
  • Fourth Family Preference (F4). Brothers and sisters of a U.S. citizen who is 21 years old or older

Filing Paperwork for Family Visa Process in U.S.

Once an applicant determines under which of these categories and subcategories they are eligible to apply for a Green Card, then the next step is to file the necessary paperwork, which comprises the following:

  • Petition. The U.S. citizen or Green Card holder who wishes to accord legal status to their qualifying relative must first file a petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The petition is intended to establish both the legal status and bona fides of the relationship.
  • Green Card Application. The qualifying relative is to file Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. 

In certain cases, both the petition and Green Card application can be filed at the same time, while in other cases, the petition must be filed first, and the qualifying relative files the application for the green card only after the petition is approved.

Speak with an Austin Family Visa Lawyer

If you are in the process or are contemplating sponsoring a relative or applying for a green card, contact J. Sparks Law, PLLC, today for a consultation and we will be happy to guide you through the process. 

Julie Sparks

Julie Sparks is Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Immigration and Nationality Law, one of a few such attorneys in Texas. After 15 years of practice in this field, she has represented immigrants from more than 70 different countries.

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