Immigration Options for Families: Bringing Loved Ones Together
After years of applying for visas and renewing them and then getting a green card and constantly ensuring that it was in good standing, it is a relief to get United States citizenship. Now that you are a U.S. citizen, your citizenship is forever. You can vote in national, state, and local elections and seek public office. All children born in the United States automatically have U.S. citizenship, but when you are a U.S. citizen, your children are automatically eligible for citizenship no matter their country of birth. Many recently naturalized United States citizens immediately turn their attention to sponsoring their family members for U.S. permanent residency; the true American dream is not just to live and work in the United States but also to share your U.S. nationality with your close family members from your country of origin. If you have recently gotten United States citizenship, or if you have had citizenship for a long time but are only now in a financial position to sponsor your family members for immigration, contact an Arizonaimmigration lawyer. Learn more about your immigration options below.
Which Family Members Can You Sponsor for Immigration?
United States citizens are automatically eligible to sponsor “immediate relatives,” meaning the spouse, parents, and young children of a U.S. citizen. You are automatically eligible to sponsor your children’s immigration if your children are below the age of 21 and are not married. Every U.S. citizen has the right to sponsor the immigration of his or her spouse, both of his or her parents, and all of his or her children under the age of 21. In theory, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would be willing to issue millions of visas per year for the spouses, parents, and children of naturalized citizens. In practice, the number of applications is limited because not all immigrants have both parents still living by the time they get citizenship, and some naturalized citizens are single and childless, while others are married to U.S. citizen spouses, and their children were born in the U.S., so they already have citizenship. Likewise, if your employer-sponsored green cards for your spouse and children at the same time as they sponsored you for a green card, then your spouse and children will automatically become eligible to apply for naturalization after they have had their green cards for a certain amount of time.
You can also sponsor the following other relatives, but the United States issues a limited number of immigrant visas for other family members of U.S. citizens. These are called “family preference” visas. These are the family members who are eligible:
Your sons or daughters who are at least 21 years old when they apply for the visa
If you are a permanent resident (not yet a citizen) and your spouse and minor children do not have permanent residency or U.S. citizenship, you can also apply for family preference visas for them.
The Form I-130 Visa Process
In most cases, you should apply for a visitor visa (also known as a tourist visa) for your family member. Once he or she arrives, submit Form I-130, the Petition for Alien Relative. The National Visa Center will ask you for additional documents, including proof of your relationship to your family member (for example, birth certificates showing that you and your sibling have the same parents) and financial documents to show that you can financially support your relative when he or she arrives. The assumption is that your child will not become financially independent until reaching adulthood and that your adult relatives will depend on you financially until they get green cards which make them eligible to work in the United States. You must show that your household income is at least 125% of the federal poverty line; the exact amount you need varies from one year to another and according to the number of people in your household.
When USCIS approves your petition, you can file form DS-260 to sponsor your relative’s immigration. If your relative is already in the U.S., this amounts to requesting an adjustment of status (from visitor to permanent resident). If your relative is outside the U.S., he or she must go to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate in his or her home country. USCIS will then request more documents and then call your relative for an interview. After passing the interview, your relative will get a green card.
What is a Fiancee Visa?
If you are engaged to be married to someone who lives in a foreign country, you should apply for a fiancée visa. This is a faster process than marrying your fiancée in her country and then petitioning for her immigration as your spouse. A fiancée visa requires some speculative wedding planning; if your fiancée gets the visa, then you must legally marry her in the United States within 90 days of her arrival. After the wedding, you can apply for an adjustment of status so your new spouse can get a green card.
Adopting a Child From Another Country
If you adopt a child in another country, you must file form I-130 and several other forms to finalize the adoption and pass your citizenship to your adopted child. The process varies slightly according to the country of your child’s birth. It depends on whether or not your child’s country of birth belongs to the Hague Convention: about half of the world’s countries do.
Should You Hire an Immigration Lawyer?
You should hire an immigration lawyer for international child adoption. You should also hire a lawyer if there is anything unusual about your relative’s petition that might cause USCIS to ask a lot of questions, such as if your 20-year-old daughter has already been married and divorced.
Contact Singular Law Group About Family-Based Immigration
An immigration attorney can help you sponsor your close family members for permanent residency. Contact Singular Law Group PLLC in Tempe, Arizona, to set up a consultation. An immigration lawyer can help you sponsor your parents, spouse, fiancée, children, or siblings for a green card.