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Who Can Be a Petitioner for Family-Based Immigration?

Who Can Be a Petitioner for Family-Based Immigration?

By Brian in Immigration | on 2024-01-22 21:20:07

If you are an immigrant permanently living with proper documentation in the United States, you have the right to bring over your immediate family members. In this article, our Austin immigration lawyers explore the nuts and bolts of family-based immigration, family-based petitions, and, specifically, who qualifies to sponsor family members living abroad.


Family-Based Immigration Basics

With family-based immigration, the family member in the US is the “petitioner,” and the family member living abroad is called the “beneficiary.” Under certain immigration categories, the foreign beneficiary may have their own family (a spouse and children) who also qualify under the same petition. 


What Is a Family-Based Petition?

A foreigner looking to reside in the United States needs an immigration visa. To apply for a visa, the foreigner needs to be “sponsored” by a family member over 21, a US citizen, or a green card holder. With a green card, your family member would be able to live and work legally in the United States. Sponsorship means the qualifying family member in the United States files an immigration petition on their behalf. The US State Department is responsible for determining how many of these visas can be issued at any certain time.


Who Is Considered a “Family Member”?

For immigration purposes in the US, family members are broken up into two categories: immediate relatives and “family preference.” If you are an immigrant legally residing in the US, you can petition for your husband, wife, unmarried daughter or son under 21, mom, and dad to come live in the United States. The government does not place limits or restrictions on the number of immediate relatives who can enter the US—it’s unlimited. 


Any other type of relative falls under the “family preference” category (brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandparents, cousins). The government, however, significantly restricts the number of family preference visas awarded every year. Due to this annual cap, the backlog of family preference visas is significant—sometimes, it takes years. The State Department posts a visa bulletin monthly, so family preference beneficiaries can see when they are getting to the end of their waiting.


I-130 Petition for Alien Relative

The I-130 immigration form is what the petitioner files to bring over their family member living abroad. The United States receives over 600,000 family-based petitions every year. About 65,000 of those petitions are rejected due to missing fees, a lack of information, incorrect proof of relationship, or other mistakes. About 75,000 of the I-130 petitions are denied because the beneficiary violated the terms of their stay (perhaps overstaying a visa) or failed to provide additional requested evidence. To save time and money, avoid these mistakes by hiring a qualified immigration attorney.


Contact an Austin Immigration Attorney Now!

Mistakes in your family-based visa petitions can cost you valuable time and money. J. Sparks Law, an Austin immigration attorney service, can help you navigate the nerve-racking process, file the correct paperwork, and everything else that needs to get done. Contact our office today for a free immigration consultation

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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