A person who wants to begin living in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident must have some path towards this status. In most cases, this entails having an individual or an employer sponsor the foreign national through the filing of a petition. The USCIS form used to sponsor a family member is called the Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. This petition establishes the reason for a person’s ability to immigrate and determines the immigrant classification or category.
The petition process in some ways is simple; in other ways it is very complicated. Not each family relationship is treated the same. A U.S. citizen can file for a variety of close family members including spouses, single and married children, parents, and siblings whereas lawful permanent residents can only file for their spouses, and unmarried children. There is also a difference between how the immigration laws treat the “immediate relatives” of U.S. citizens (which are defined as the spouses, minor unmarried children, and parents) and everyone else otherwise known as the “preference classes.” This category includes petitions filed by U.S. citizens for adult and married children and siblings and all petitions filed by lawful permanent residents. With the preference classes, USCIS has created annual numerical limitations for how many individuals from these countries can become permanent residents each year, and because more petitions have been filed than these “visa numbers” are available, a backlog has accrued with some backlogs of seven years and other backlogs over twenty years.
Our office will help you understand:
- Whether you have the appropriate legal relationship to sponsor your relative such as whether prior marriages are properly terminated and whether birth certificates adequately establish a parent-child relationship
- How to prove your marriage as bona fide and not for immigration purposes
- What your petition’s filing “priority date” is, what your petition’s classification is, and how long it will take before your beneficiary’s visa becomes available
- Whether your beneficiary can change classifications to speed or slow the process and whether your beneficiary can bring his or her own dependent spouse and children