Family: Immigration & Sponsoring Loved Ones

Family: Immigration & Sponsoring Loved Ones

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Connie Kaplan

Separation from your family and living in another country is no easy feat. You have your struggles and to top it all, the immigration process is daunting and overwhelming. Immigration and family sponsorship is a legitimate way to bring your loved ones into the United States. If you want to sponsor or bring a family member into the country, then you must know all about the immigration classifications, the paperwork, and the process to make sure you are settled and united with your loved ones.

Family-Based Immigration

This is alternately known as family sponsorship too. To sponsor means “to petition” for  your loved one. This is a case when you wish to immigrate to the United States permanently, a close relative who is a lawful permanent resident here in the United States sponsors you. As long as you can prove it, this relative must have a qualifying family relationship to you, for example, spouse, child or parent who is already a United States citizen or a green card holder.

Qualifications for Relatives Who Can Sponsor You

Your relative should be a US citizen or a green card holder. Checklist of loved ones who can sponsor include:

  • A spouse
  • Married child or children
  • Sibling, provided you are 21 years of age or older
  • Parent, provided you are 21 years of age or older

Additional Categories include:

You can also get a green card if you are related to a United States citizen, and your relationship to them is:

  • Battered child or spouse
  • Fiance
  • Widower
  • Child of foreign diplomat born in the US.

Qualifications for Relatives You Can Sponsor

You can bring your family into the United States to live with you and be eligible for a green card, too. However, you must be able to prove that you can support your loved ones by being 124% above poverty line. You can sponsor the following close relatives:

  • A spouse

Not qualified to sponsor or eligible for family-based immigration

    • Adopted parent or child if the child is older than 16 years.
    • Adopted parent or child if the child has not lived with the parent legally for over two years.  
    • Stepchild, if the marriage was after the stepchild’s 18th birthday.
    • Either spouse in an unconsummated marriage.
    • Either spouse if they were involved in a deportation, removal, or rescission.
    • Grandparent, grandchild, nephew, niece, uncle, aunt, cousin, or in-law.

The Requirements of Family-based Immigration

Separation from your immediate family members is tough and challenging. The first step toward family immigration and sponsoring is filing a petition. You need to file Form I-130 to sponsor an immediate relative.

If you are already a citizen of the United States and want to sponsor a family member, then you must meet the minimum age requirement to file petitions for parents or siblings, which is 21 years or older. If you wanted to file a petition for a spouse, then you must be 18 years or older to sign an Affidavit of Support, Form I-864 or I-864-EZ. Either way, your domicile or residence should be in the United States to file a petition.

Remember, the immigrant visa differs if you were a lawful permanent resident (LPR) than being a U.S. citizen. You will need to submit the proof of naturalization which will determine which visa your relative will receive.

Minor, unmarried children

To become a lawful permanent resident (LPR), the visa category for spouse and minor, the unmarried minor child is a family second preference (F2A). If you have children, each child needs a separate petition.

As a U.S. citizen, the visa category for minor, unmarried children and spouse is immediate relative (IR). if your child was born in another country while you were a U.S. citizen, your child is eligible for U.S. passport as approved by the consular officer. In case your child does not qualify for passport and still wants to live in the country, then apply for an immigrant visa.

Unmarried adult children (age 21 or older)

If sponsored by lawful permanent resident (LPR), the visa category is a family first preference (F1). However, if your child wanted to change the visa category to family second preference (F2B), then submit a request using NVC’s online inquiry form and wait for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ’s approval of your petition.

Pay Fees, Affidavit of Support, and Visa Application

Upon USCIS’s approval of your petition, the National Visa Center (NVC) gives you a case number and you need to complete Form DS-261 – this is only if you do not have an attorney. The NVC starts the process and depending on your case, the appropriate fees are instructed. Once you pay the required fees, you must complete immigrant visa documents, including the Affidavit of Support, application forms, civil documents, undergo medical examinations and more.

Required documents:

Your visa interview is the last leg of the race. If you hire an attorney, your attorney can help you prepare all your documents and guide you through all the paperwork. An attorney can also help you prepare for the visa interview.

This list is not exhaustive and you may be eligible for options or relief not listed here.  In addition, immigration law changes daily.  You should discuss with an experienced immigration attorney your particular situation and concerns about how these changes may affect you.

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