family immigration

Family-based Immigration, as explained by a Memphis Immigration Lawyer

When you think of immigration—the process of coming to the United States and maintaining permanent residence, it’s often done through family.  Basically this is where immigrant relatives of an American citizen come and live in the United States.  With family-based immigration you have different classifications and this is determined by the family relationship the applicant has to the citizen.  This is important because with some classifications (relationships) there are no annual limits, meaning the U.S. government will let in as many a year as are eligible, but with other classifications there are annual limits and only a certain number will be admitted each year.

  • Immediate relatives

There are no annual limits on the number of immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who can immigrate.  “Immediate relatives” are children, a spouse, or parents of the citizen.  Children must be unmarried and under age 21, and may be either stepchildren, adopted, or biological.  For spouses, it must be a legitimate marriage, or what the law calls valid and subsisting.   There are many factors that immigration authorities look into when determining if the marriage is real.

  • Preference Relatives

After immediate relatives are the preference relatives.  The big difference with this category is that there are annual limits placed by the government on the number who can be admitted each year.  These types of relatives include adult, unmarried children of U.S. citizens, siblings of U.S. citizens, and certain relatives of permanent residents. There are four different categories of preference relatives.  Unfortunately, because of the low annual numerical limits, the wait times to be admitted to the United States are very long, often many years.

Family Visa Lawyer

The process for naturalizing a family member begins with the filing of a petition called a form I-130.  Later, or in some cases at the same time, an application for adjustment of status will also be filed.  The citizen/permanent resident is the petitioner, and the petition must include proof of the petitioner’s resident status and proof of the relationship to the non-citizen (like a marriage certificate if the petition is for a spouse).  Family-based immigration offers a lot of options for bringing someone to the United States, but it can be a long and complex process.  Many government forms must be filled out, and many supporting documents must be included.  For help, contact Memphis immigration attorney Patrick Stegall today.