Family renufication
Family renufication

Relatives in the States -
An Excellent Opportunity to Immigrate

Striving to settle at their desired destination, people should consider all possible ways and picks the most appropriate. One way is immigration through family unity. Before making any decision, and before scheduling a preliminary consultation with an attorney, we encourage people to learn about all the options available. Here we are going to speak on one of the ways.

While consulting with you, our attorney will perform a detailed review of your situation and give customized recommendations on family-based immigration and sponsorship.
Our attorney will then review all documentation,prepare the petition (I-130), and file it with the USCIS. They then coach you for the upcoming interview and will even accompany you there if necessary.
Our attorney can also help you with completing the immigration application package and filling out forms for NVC. Afterward, they can help coach you for a visa application interview in the consulate.

One excellent option is if you have a relative who is a temporary resident, a permanent resident, or a citizen in the States.

Advantages of the U.S. immigration for a family reunification

  • It takes a relatively short period of time. Approval to reside in the U.S through family reunion can take as little as one to five years. Each separate case is assessed on its own merit. Some will move quicker than others.
  • A smaller percentage of refusals in comparison with other ways. The existence of a relative-by-blood in the States, who also takes responsibility for an alien's visit, both financial and judicial, increases the chances for a positive answer from the USCIS.;
  • You have a right to work while waiting for the Green Card. You may receive a work permit along with your visa, even if you still don’t have a permanent residency card.
Advantages of the U.S. immigration for a family reunification

Terms of the U.S. immigration through family unity

Although the percentage of acceptance is excellent, there are still certain qualifications that must be met. Have a relative in the U.S. is grounds for applying for a visa, but there are still restrictions and qualifications that must be met.

Who may file a Petition for Alien Relative?

  • A petition must be filed by a family member who is a legal U.S. resident. He must act as a sponsoring party, claiming his relatives wish to join him. A person becomes legally capable at the age of 21 by the law. So, if a child a legal resident of the U.S. and wishes to sponsor his parents, he must wait for his 21st birthday to have a right to petition.
  • The petition may be filed only by immediate relatives. A grand-nephew doesn’t fall in the category.
  • The sponsor must take full judicial and financial responsibility for the applicant and must prove his financial ability to do so. Evidence may include a proof of income, certificates of title for personal and real property, bank account statements, and other documents. The income of a sponsor must be adequate to support the sponsored relatives.

The definition of an immediate relative and family member in the immigration law of the United States

A permanent U.S. resident without citizenship has a right of reunification only with immediate family members from three lists below. However, immigration may also be available for the beneficiary’s immediate foreign national family members as well.

The definition of an immediate relative and family member in the immigration law of the United States

The U.S. law regarding family reunification recognizes the following persons as an immediate family:

  • Parents
  • Spouse
  • Unmarried minor children

Brothers and sisters or married or unmarried children of any age may qualify as relatives of an American citizen who have the right to family reunification:

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Peculiarities and stages of the U.S. immigration through family reunification

There are four non-preferential categories visa and one preferential, each having its own priority of issue and assigned quota size. Visa processing periods are subject to the number of petitions submitted and on the size of a queue waiting to be processed.

U.S. immigration law is a very complex system of provisions, each of them having a range of restrictions and amendments, linking them to other points of law that could affect the ultimate outcome of a petition.

For example, the spouse of a Green Card holder should expect that you will be qualified as an F-2 Visa candidate (see chart below). If you had been married before your husband obtained a Green Card, you qualify for preferential treatment to enter the States as a spouse.

Remember that, even if your situation qualifies as one of the groups below, we strongly recommend that you consult with an experienced Immigration Attorney. It may be to your advantage to file under a different category for reasons that are not readily apparent to you. And if you follow your attorney’s recommendation, the immigration process move along much more efficiently. If you do not consult an Immigration Attorney or if you ignore his advice, you may waste a lot of time or lose your chance to immigrate.

Procedures for entry through family reunion: categories and preferences

Category Petitioner Qualified relatives Annual quota Average processing period
Immediate relatives
(IR-0 category)
The U.S. citizen Parents
Widow or widower
Minor children (under 21) unmarried children, adopted children included
No restrictions First-priority
I family preference
(F1-1 category)
The U.S. citizen Major (above 21) unmarried children
Juvenile grandchildren coming with the children
23,400 Plus unissued F4 visas 1-5 years
II family preference
(F1-2 category)
The U.S. resident Spouse
Juvenile children
Unmarried children above 21
114,200 77% are designated for spouses and juvenile children 23% for minor unmarried children О1 year for spouses and juvenile children, 3-4 years for children of age
III family preference
(F3-3 category)
The U.S. citizen Married children, their spouses, and minor children 23,400 plus unissued F1 and F2 9 years
IV family preference
(F4-4 category)
The U.S. citizen Siblings, their spouses, and minor children 65,000 7-10 years
Procedures for entry through family reunion

All categories have their own peculiar features, sequence of actions, and required packages of documentation. Any mistake at any stage prolongs the process and may even result in your inability to use your chosen path to immigrate.

The process of immigration for a family reunification


Preparing documents and filling forms

A Green Card holder or U.S. citizen fills the I-130 form.

A separate form must be filed for each person whose immigration is initiated.

Proofs of relationship and own citizenship or the permanent residence right, evidence of financial sustainability to cover the relocation and costs of living for migrating relatives must be attached.

Except for the petition for Alien Relative itself, the form for residency status and work permit acquisition are filed. Each of the forms is supplied in a separate documents pack for each individual.


Submitting the petition

After the U.S. citizen has submitted an application to USCIS, he/she get’s a notice of an admission of the application. But it doesn’t mean the answer will be positive.

If during processing of the application an officer determines that a form was filled incorrectly or incompletely, the petition will be declined, or extra proof required.

This delays the processing period. If the request is declined, the applicant must wait six months before attempting to reapply.


Waiting for USCIS decision

Waiting for a decision may take several months or longer. Some cases have taken years. Typically, the closer is a relationship, the shorter the application processing period. The length of the queue also determines the length of the process. Those who applied before you will be processed before you.


USCIS decision

The decision may be ether issue of a quota for residency or a refusal.


Getting an immigration visa

Once an application is approved, a foreign national relative of the resident applicant will be interviewed at the nearest U.S. consulate.


Receiving the Green Card

Ultimately, the holder of a family reunification visa may submit a request for the Green Card and, thereafter, may apply for U.S. citizenship.

Relatives in the States – A great opportunity to immigrate

There are specific for visas for a fiancé(e), reunion with elderly or with a legally incapable spouse, with a minor child, with an American-born child of an American diplomatic official, immigration of a widow or a widower of an American citizen. Please consult with a qualified Immigration Attorney for assistance.


Is it mandatory to be on the U.S. territory or the process can be initiated from abroad? What’s the fastest way?


In exceptional cases, there is a possibility for an American resident or a citizen to file a petition from abroad. This issue is very specific and complex, so we recommend asking a lawyer on the matter.


Who has a better chance to immigrate to the U.S. on family reunion program – children or parents?


Immediate relatives (see the definition above) of a legally capable American citizen have the best chance to get a Green Card. The IR category applications have a top-priority processing and they are not assigned a quota. Minor unmarried children, spouses, and parents have the same priority. Married children under 21 and unmarried major children fall into two different categories. Decision-making terms here differ.


What are the major reasons for refusal of a petition for a family reunification visa?


The USCIS has the right to refuse a petition with no explanation. The most frequent reasons for the refusal:

  • Wrong form,
  • inaccurately filled form,
  • inconsistent information,
  • failure to provide evidential documents,
  • failure to comply with instructions, rules, and terms of submission.

What affects a waiting period after the petition has been submitted?

  • the priority category;
  • the quota;
  • the number of submitted petitions already in the queue;

ACS Inc. provides comprehensive advice on all U.S. immigration questions. Expert attorneys in San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento, Santa Barbara with a broad practical experience will analyze your personal case and help you to choose the best way of immigration. They will create an action plan that will lead you to the American citizenship as soon as possible. You will get a full support while filing documents and essential forms on every case. Attorneys are also available to review the forms and documents for cases prepared by an applicant or third party to ensure that those documents are suitable for submission and approval.