United States immigration laws permit United States citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (green card holders) to sponsor certain family members to immigrate to the United States as permanent residents. Lawful Permanent Residents may sponsor spouses and children, while United States citizens can sponsor parents, siblings, children, and spouses.I-130: Petition for Alien Relative
As a first step, both United States citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents seeking to sponsor family members must file a Petition for Alien Relative with their local United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office. Family members of Lawful Permanent Residents may have a long wait. Often, they cannot enter the United States for months or years after the green card holder has started his or her life in the country. Sometimes the Lawful Permanent Resident has become a United States citizen by the time his or her family member is able to complete the process to get a green card. Each case is different, so our office will thoroughly assess your situation to come up with the best strategy to help your family member immigrate to the United States.
The wait is shorter for applicants who are sponsored by United States citizens, to whom preference is given. For immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, visas are always available and there is no need to wait in line. Immediate relatives are: spouses of U.S. citizens, unmarried children under age 21 with a parent who is a United States citizen, and parents of U.S. citizens who are over 21. There is no minimum age for a United States citizen petitioning to bring a foreign spouse to the United States, but in order to sign an affidavit of support, the citizen must be 18 years or older and have a residence in the United States.
After USCIS approves the first petition, the matter is sent to the National Visa Center. Further documentation must be submitted. An applicant will need to complete a medical examination, receive vaccinations, and also be interviewed.K Visas
In addition to petitioning for certain family members to receive a green card, a United States citizen can petition for certain individuals to receive a K-1 or K-3/K-4 Visa. The K visas are classified as temporary nonimmigrant visas, even though they are issued to those who plan to immigrate permanently.
A K-1 visa allows a fiancée to stay in the United States for 90 days to get married to the petitioner and apply for Lawful Permanent Resident status. If the marriage does not occur in that period, the visa holder is subject to removal proceedings.
The K-3 applies to foreign spouses who are married to United States citizens and the K-4 visa applies to the foreign spouse’s unmarried children who are under the age of 21. The K-3 is valid for two years and can be extended indefinitely so long as the marriage continues. The spouse can work and travel in and out of the United States with this visa.
For all of the above rules, immigration laws define a spouse as a legally wedded husband and wife. Cohabitation does not create a spousal relationship for immigration purposes, nor does a same sex marriage. In polygamous marriages, only the first spouse counts for purposes of a “spouse” relationship under the law. If you are married to your husband or wife by common law in accordance with the rules of your country, you may count as a spouse.
Making sure your family is able to enter the United States to live with or near you if you are a United States citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident is extremely important, as it affects the quality of your life in the United States. We understand how difficult it is to understand immigration laws if you are a layperson, and recommend that you contact an experienced Maryland family visa attorney at Anthony A. Fatemi, LLC so that we can help your family make a smooth transition to the United States. Located in Maryland, we serve clients throughout the state as well as Washington, DC. Call us at (301) 519-2801, or submit our online contact form today.