Who Is Considered Family For Immigration Purposes?
The people you are eligible to sponsor depend on your immigration status. If you are a U.S. citizen, you can petition for your spouse, your child, your parent, or your brother or sister. Children are a little bit of an unusual situation because their category is treated differently based on whether they’re over 21 or under 21 and whether they’re married or unmarried. US citizens can petition for their siblings or parents in addition to the other categories; permanent residents only for their spouse/children. Again, whether they’re over or under 21 makes a difference as to what category they’re in, but you can still petition for them as long as they’re unmarried. Stepchildren and stepparents are included as long as the marriage that created that relationship happened before the child turned 18.
If You’re A Lawful Permanent Resident Or Citizen Who Wants To Bring A Family Member To The United States, What Type Of Visa Will They Need?
For someone who’s outside the United States, they’re going to need to get an immigrant visa as opposed to a non-immigrant visa, which includes categories like tourist visas (meaning there’s no intent to remain in the United States). You cannot, however, directly apply for the immigrant visa. In order to apply for an immigrant visa, you first have to file an I-130, which is a petition with some basic information, to establish what the relationship is and that you’re eligible to sponsor the person who wants to come here.
And then, once that’s approved, you have to go through a whole other process with the National Visa Center and with the local embassy or consulate of the country that they’re coming from. There are different preference categories depending on your immigration status, your relationship to the person you’re sponsoring, and their age and marital status. That’s an overview of the process. Then, you’ll have to submit more documentation to establish the relationship and wait.
Who Can Be A Beneficiary Without Any Numerical Restrictions?
The immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen are not subject to numerical restrictions. People who do not fall under immediate relatives are put into a preference category, and each category has a restriction on how many people per year can be granted a visa under that category. Most of the categories have a backlog, so you might have to wait years until visas actually become available for the year in which you applied. Someone who applied in 2015, if there were no visas available then for their category, will have been waiting for one to become available, and they’re waiting behind everyone who applied in that year and 2016 and 2017 and so on.
Again, the exception to this is an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen. For those spouses, parents, or children under the age of 21, the only delay is the actual processing time, which is still pretty significant. In fact, I’d say be prepared for up to two years to get through it all. You can actually speed the process up by having your documents ready, getting them in, and just being prepared at all times. The other categories will face a delay no matter how well their case is put together.
What Other Preference Categories Are There?
They’re labelled first preference, second preference, third preference, and fourth preference, but those labels are kind of misleading. Right now, second preference visas, especially F2A visas, are actually easier to get.
Basically, different types of relatives are split into different categories depending on your status, their relationship to you, their age, and their marital status. First preference includes those unmarried sons and daughters who are over the age of 21 of U.S. citizens. Second preference is actually split into F2A and F2B, and those include spouses and children under the age of 21 (F2A) and unmarried children over the age of 21 (F2B) of permanent residents. Third preference is married children of U.S. citizens; and fourth preference is brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.
What Does A Sponsor Need To Get This Process Going?
The first things you’ll need are the basic documents to prove your status and your relationship to the person that you’re sponsoring. You’ll need your green card or your naturalization certificate or your birth certificate—whichever proves that you’re a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen. Then, you’ll need your birth certificate or your marriage certificate to prove that your relationship to the beneficiary is what you say it is. The immigrant applicant will need proof of their status and proof of their relationship.
Beyond that, there is a lot of access to biographical information that’s required for the petition. You’ll need to provide your parents’ names, their dates of birth, where they were born, and the same set of information for the person you’re sponsoring. I would say you need to have a conversation with the beneficiary about any criminal or immigration record that they have because you need to be prepared to apply for any waivers they may need. Finally, you’ll need the money for the process, for the filing fees and the insurance fees.
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