A U. S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (“green card” holder) may help a relative become a U. S. permanent resident by filing a family-based immigrant visa petition on their behalf. Through this process, a foreign national who is granted U. S. permanent residency has the privilege of permanently living and working in the United States. The immigration attorneys in our office can help you with the family-based immigrant visa process. Additionally, a Michigan family immigration lawyer could help you with any legal obstacles that arise during the process.
The family-based immigrant visa process begins with the U. S. citizen or permanent resident filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of their qualifying relative, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The I-130 must be accompanied by various forms and documents, to include documentation establishing the relationship between the U. S. citizen or permanent resident, and the foreign national relative. A U. S. citizen may file an I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of the following foreign national relatives:
A U. S. permanent resident may file an I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of the following foreign national relatives:
Please note that the definitions of each qualifying relationship listed above are defined by immigration law, and in some cases do not carry their common, everyday meaning. Furthermore, processing and waiting times may be extensive for some of the categories listed above, as there are limited numbers of visas available in each category in a given year. A Michigan lawyer could determine if an individual is eligible to go through the family immigration process on behalf of their relative.
Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens do not have to wait for an immigrant visa number to become available once the visa petition filed on their behalf is approved by the USCIS. An immediate relative is either a parent, spouse or unmarried child under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen. The relatives in the remaining preference categories, outlined below, generally must wait for a visa number to become available:
Once the I-130 is approved by USCIS, the second step of the process is to apply for an immigrant visa, provided an immigrant visa number is immediately available to the foreign national relative. Visa number availability is determined by the U. S. Department of State’s Visa Bulletin, and USCIS’ Adjustment of Status Filing Charts. If a visa is immediately available, then a decision must then be made whether the foreign national relative will consular process or adjust their status to obtain their permanent residency; this determination is made based on various criteria, to include, but not limited to: whether the foreign national is in the U. S. or abroad, whether the foreign national is in valid nonimmigrant status, and has maintained such status, whether the foreign national upon arriving to the United States was admitted, inspected, or paroled, and whether a U.S. citizen or permanent resident is petitioning on behalf of the foreign national.
If the foreign national will consular process, then the USCIS will send the I-130 approval to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC), where it will remain until an immigrant visa number is available. The NVC will notify the U. S. citizen or permanent resident and foreign national when the visa petition is received and again when an immigrant visa number is about to become available. They will also notify both the U. S. citizen or permanent resident, and foreign national when they must submit the visa processing fees and when supporting documents must be submitted.
If the foreign national will be filing for adjustment of status in the U. S., then depending on the adjustment category, they may be eligible to file their adjustment application (Form I-485) concurrently with their I-130. However, most categories require that you first establish your eligibility for the immigrant category by having an approved petition before you are allowed to file for adjustment using Form I-485. As a reminder, and as discussed above, you may not file your Form I-485 until a visa is available in your category.
Please note that in most cases, in order for the foreign national relative to obtain an immigrant visa, the U. S. citizen or permanent resident must prove that they can support the foreign national relative by providing documentation that their income is 125% above the poverty level for the size of their family, including the foreign national relative and their family members. If the U. S. citizen or permanent resident cannot meet this criteria, then they may have to obtain a joint sponsor, and/or use other resources to show that the foreign national relative has the means of financial support and will not become a public charge.
If you are interested in applying for a family-based immigrant visa on behalf of your relative, our attorneys in Michigan may assist you with the process.