America Family Visa Sponsorship – If you have a family member living as a citizen or permanent resident in the States, you may be eligible to be sponsored to get a U.S. Green Card. Fill out our immigration assessment form and we’ll get back to you in order to discuss your eligibility and options.
Helping a family member, whether it is your spouse, fiancé(e), child, parent or brother or sister, become a permanent resident of the US, follows roughly the same procedure as outlined below. It may seem straightforward, but there are many nuances in each type of family-based visa. Please read our site carefully, and if you have any questions, please contact us for more information on family based immigration to the US.
- First, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must approve an immigrant visa petition (I-130) for you. The US citizen relative fills this out on behalf of the foreign-born relative. It must be accompanied by proof of the relationship and the other required documentation in order to begin the family based immigration process.
- Second, the Department of State must determine if an immigrant visa number is available for the foreign national, according to the category of visa applied for, even if that person already lives in the United States.
- The third step in family based immigration, if the foreign relative is already in the United States, he or she should apply to change his or her status to that of a lawful permanent resident after a visa number becomes available. This is one way to secure an immigrant visa number. You can adjust your status, commonly known as AOS, by submitting a form I-485 along with other required documentation, such as the results of medical examinations, police certificates, etc. I-485s are considered by the USCIS directly. In this case, principal applicants, both petitioner and beneficiary should submit their applications together (I-130 + I-485 + required documentation) through the local office rather than regional one.
- If you are outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, the foreign relative must go to the U.S. consulate to complete the processing. This is the other way in which you can apply to secure an immigrant visa number for US family based immigration. If a beneficiary is based outside the United States, then his / her documents are considered by the National Visa Center (NVC) before his / her case is being sent to the US Consulate for further processing.NVC reviews the documentation and completes the required administrative processing, such as checking backgrounds and so on.
However, if allowed to immigrate to the United States, the people on the above list, except for the immediate relatives, will be permitted to bring their own spouses and children with them. And it is true that once someone has a green card, they can sponsor other people on the list.
How Long Must Relatives Wait?
Immediate relatives can get green cards without worrying about visa-availability waiting periods or numerical limits. (There will be a wait of many months, however, while USCIS and then the State Department actually process the applications.)
Preference relatives typically have to wait between for some number of years before being allowed to apply for their visa or green card.
Only a certain percentage of the green cards in the preference categories go to any one country each year. That means that if a particularly high number of people submit petitions for family from certain countries—as is often the case with India, Mexico, China, and the Philippines—their family members end up waiting even longer than others.
Because of annual limits on how many green cards (immigrant visas) are given out, and the unpredictability of how many people will submit petitions each year, no one can say exactly how long each preference-category applicant will wait. All we know for sure is how long the people at the front of the line right now have been waiting.
How to Start the Application Process
It’s your job as a U.S. citizen or green card holder to start the process, after which a number of followup steps are required. Your family member can’t enter the U.S. until both the petition and a number of subsequent applications have been approved.
For more information, see How to File a Green Card Application. For details and help applying, see the book How to Get a Green Card, by Ilona Bray (Nolo) or, for married or engaged couples, Fiance and Marriage Visas: A Couple’s Guide to U.S. Immigration (Nolo).