Family Immigration Attorney in Georgia
Most foreign nationals gain permanent residence or citizenship in the United States through family-based immigration. It allows family members to reunite and live together in the country. However, family immigration in the United States can be a lengthy and complicated process. The U.S. immigration laws are extremely challenging to navigate. Working with a skilled Georgia immigration lawyer is strongly advised to help you understand the family immigration laws and processes.
At the Law Office of Jeffrey B. Kelly, we have extensive knowledge and experience in the U.S immigration process. Our dedicated legal team works diligently to give you the best results in your case. We will help you meet all eligibility requirements for family-based immigration classifications, ensure the completeness of your documents, and maximize your chances of a positive resolution to the immigration process.
Contact us now and schedule an initial consultation.
What is Family-Based Immigration?
Family-based immigration is the most common way for a non-citizen or a foreign national to become a permanent resident in the United States. It is considered the primary basis for legal immigration to the U.S. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) permits the family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs or green card holders) to enter the country and pursue lawful permanent residency or U.S. citizenship.
The immigration process varies depending on the relationship of the family member and whether the petitioning relative is a United States citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident. A knowledgeable Georgia family immigration attorney can give legal advice and guide you through the complex visa application and family-based immigration process.
Who is Eligible for a Family Visa?
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has two groups of family-based immigrant visa categories. Family-based immigrants are admitted either as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens or through the family preference system.
Both types have their requirements, but in all cases, the immigrant must be sponsored by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who’s over the age of 21. To increase the chances of getting an approved petition, it is crucial to meet deadlines and comply with all the requirements. The best way to determine your eligibility for a family visa is to work with a credible Georgia family immigration lawyer.
Immediate Relative Visa
If you are a U.S. citizen, you can file petitions for your immediate relatives including spouses, children, parents, and siblings. On the other hand, lawful permanent residents are only allowed to file petitions for spouses and unmarried children. If a lawful permanent resident becomes a naturalized U.S. citizen, he or she may then petition the government on behalf of parents and siblings, as well.
The number of visas available in this category is not limited to each fiscal year. It means that there is no per-country quota on the allocation of these visas. This category is reserved for the “immediate relatives” of U.S. citizens, defined as:
- Spouses of U.S. citizens
- Unmarried children of U.S. citizens (under 21 years old)
- Parents of U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old
- Orphans to be adopted in the U.S. by U.S. citizens
- Orphans adopted abroad
Family Preference Visa
A family preference visa is designed for more distant family relationships with a U.S. citizen and some specified relationships with a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). The number of visas available in this category is limited each fiscal year. The government puts a cap on the number it will issue. This means that per-country quotas apply along with how many are allocated yearly for that specific visa category.
Other family relationships are eligible for sponsorship under the following preference categories, which are subject to annual quotas:
- First preference/FB1 — Unmarried adult children (over age 21) of U.S. citizens
- Second preference/FB2A — Spouses and unmarried minor sons and daughters of those with legal permanent resident (LPR) status
- Third preference/FB2B — Unmarried adult sons and daughters of those with LPR
- Fourth preference/FB3 — Married adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
- Fifth preference/FB4 — Siblings of U.S. citizens
How Do I Apply for a Family Visa?
The family-based immigration process involves a lot of application forms, screenings, background checks, interviews, and medical examinations. It can be overwhelming and stressful. If you are considering filing a petition for your family member, consult our seasoned Georgia family immigration lawyer to help you understand the necessary procedures that need to be followed.
The family-based immigration process generally begins with the petitioner (U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident) requesting the U.S. government to allow a family member to immigrate. The U.S. citizen or LPR petitioner files a Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) with the USCIS on behalf of the alien beneficiary. The I-130 petition establishes the existence of a qualifying family relationship (within the immediate relative or family preference categories).
The I-130 petition must be submitted together with supporting papers proving the eligibility of the sponsor to submit an I-130. In most cases, you need to present the following documents as part of an I-130 petition:
- Proof that a legally valid familial relationship exists
- Proof that the familial relationship is not fraudulent
- Proof that the sponsor is a U.S. citizen or green card holder
- Proof of nationality of the person seeking a green card
- Proof of name changes for the sponsor or the person seeking a green card
On I-130 approval, preference immigrants are then placed on a visa waiting list based on their “priority date,” which is the date Form I-130 was filed. When the priority date becomes current, the beneficiary and any qualified dependents may apply to become lawful permanent residents (green card holders) of the United States.
There are two common ways of applying for a green card: consular processing or adjustment of status. Consular processing is a means for applying for an immigrant visa (green card) through the U.S. embassy or consular office in a foreign country. In some cases, an immigrant who is already residing in the United States as a temporary visitor may be able to adjust his or her status to permanent resident. Adjustment of status is the process of changing immigration status to permanent residence (green card holder). This is often applicable to a small group of applicants.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Family-Based Visa?
A family member's relational status is one of the main factors that determine how long the process takes. Depending on the applicant’s connection with their sponsor, it can take a few months or several years from the time of initial filing to the time of final approval.
In most cases, immediate relatives such as spouses and minor children who have met all the requirements usually obtain green cards quickly. Other family members might have to wait for years or even decades, depending on their family preference category. There are backlogs in most of the family preference categories due to numerical and per-country demand, limitations, and constraints.
Speak to Our Experienced Georgia Family Immigration Attorneys Now!
Immigration to the United States can be a lengthy and complex process for foreign nationals. It can be even more complicated when multiple family members seek to obtain a permanent resident card under the sponsorship of a relative with American citizenship or permanent residency. There are many requirements to prepare and immigration laws to follow.
If you’re a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who’s interested in bringing family members to the U.S., consult our reliable Georgia family immigration attorneys at the Law Office of Jeffrey B. Kelly. Our immigration law firm will provide the necessary legal assistance throughout your family-based immigration process. We will guide you from filing the required paperwork with the USCIS to ensuring the petition is completed correctly. We will help you save money and time while avoiding unnecessary delays in your immigration procedure.
To speak with one of our family-based immigration attorneys in Georgia, call us or fill out our online form.
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