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A look at the family-based immigration process

| Jul 20, 2020 | Immigration |

Living in this country without your loved ones can be challenging. Having them visit can be costly and logistically difficult, and merely speaking with them by phone or virtual means probably isn’t sufficient. Additionally, you might want your loved one’s to enjoy the same opportunities that you have enjoyed in this country. But, as you might know, immigrating to this country seems to only get more and more challenging. So, if you want to get a loved one into the U.S. then you need to know the law and what you can do to help your loved ones.

If you’re looking to utilize family-based immigration to bring your loved ones into the U.S., then you’ve essentially got two options. Let’s look at each of them.

  • Visas given to immediate relatives: Under this family visa option, a U.S. citizen will need to sponsor a close relative, such as a parent, a spouse, or a child. If you’re a U.S. citizen, then your petition can include your or your spouse’s children who are under the age of 21 and unmarried, your spouse, or your parents. In the U.S., there currently isn’t a limit on the number of these immigrants who are allowed into the country each year, meaning that it is much easier to get a family member into the U.S. through this route.
  • Visas given for family preference: This type of visa option is given for more distant relatives, and can be petitioned for by U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. Here, you can seek to bring unmarried children into the U.S., regardless of age, married children if you are a U.S. citizen, your spouse, and your siblings if you are a U.S. citizen. There are preference categories for this type of visa, though, and the number of these visas that are given each year are limited. This means that it is more challenging to get your family member into the U.S. through this route.

Regardless of which route you seek to pursue, you’re going to need to file a petition on your family member’s behalf. The petition must be very clear and contain some sort of evidence that demonstrates your relationship to your family member. Once the petition has been accepted you and your family member will be sent requests for additional documentation and to interview.

Before you interview, though, the State Department requires you and your family member to complete numerous tasks in preparation. Amongst them are to complete a medical examination, gather photographs of yourself and your family member, and maybe even complete the public charge questionnaire, which seeks to determine whether the potential family immigrant will become a “burden” on the system due to their medical condition, lack of financial stability, and or likelihood to need government assistance.

During the interview process, which may occur separately for you and your family member, a number of questions will be asked to verify the correctness of submitted documentation and to delve deeper into your relationship with your family member and his or her history. For example, if you’re sponsoring your spouse, then a lot of questions will be asked about how you met, your wedding, how finances are handled, and even specifics of daily life such as what type of car your spouse drives. Specific questions can be asked when you’re sponsoring other family members, too, and they can seek to figure out if there is any criminal history or other indications of poor moral character, such as drug or alcohol addiction.

It he U.S. government feels like you or your sponsored family member are being dishonest, then the visa will likely be denied. Therefore, you and your family member both need to be fully prepared for the interview, and you need to make sure that all document submitted to the government is accurate and complete. Any minor slip up can lead to an adverse decision.

If that sounds stressful, then take comfort in knowing that you don’t have to navigate this process on your own. Instead, you can work closely with an immigration attorney who knows the ins and outs of the system and can guide you every step of the way. Hopefully, then, you and your family member will be able to reunite and continue your lives together here in the U.S.