In 2019, more than 40 million immigrants lived in the United States. The same year census records reflected that over 14% of the total US population comprised immigrants. There are many reasons why you feel the need to move with your family. These include looking for better employment opportunities, education, healthcare, and safety. However, asking your family to relocate from one country to another is difficult. Likewise, applying for a family immigration visa can be a challenging process. You need to fill out certain forms, meet particular prerequisites and follow deadlines.

Here is an overview of the basic requirements to know before you make this significant move:

What Is Family-Based Immigration?

Family immigration is a process through which citizens of the United States and lawful permanent residents (LPR) can bring their families into the country. Since this is a legal move, there are specific guidelines you will need to follow. As a fellow American or a lawful citizen, you sponsor your family for a green card by applying for this visa. Your family members must be your immediate relative or fall under the prescribed category for sponsorship.

Therefore you should consult a lawyer before you submit your applications. By going onto a website such as you can connect with an attorney to learn about family immigration. Attorneys here can guide you about the information you need to provide, file a petition on your behalf and explore your beneficiary status. While you’re at liberty to handle the procedure on your own, there is no substitute for expert advice and experience which can shine a knowledgeable light on your case.

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1.How Does Your Family Get Categorized?

Your family will fall into one of the two categories after you apply for them.
Immediate family members or relatives include your spouse, parents, and minor children who are below 21. On the other hand, anyone outside this circle will go into the family preference category. Unlike immediate family, this section has a limited number of visas, limiting the number of green cards to be awarded to family. But, there are unlimited visas for your immediate family members.

2.What Does The Green Card Application Look Like?

When you file for your family, you’ll be considered the petitioner since you’re asking the US government to allow your family to immigrate. Therefore, you’ll need to file form I-130, also known as Petition for Alien Relative, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form will determine your relationship with your relative and categorize it into either immediate family members or family preference.

Upon approval of the I-130 petition, your family member will get a visa number which they can use to apply for a green card. They can choose to go from a consular processing or adjustment status. In the case of consular processing, the US assembly will handle the green card, making it a popular choice among immigrants.

In comparison, status adjustment is mainly opted for by students or tourists. This is a suitable option for those who are temporary visitors. Once processed, their status can change to permanent resident, making them green card holders.

3.What Is Required For A Family Visa?

You and your family members will go through numerous screenings. This includes running background checks, interviews, processing fees, and medical examinations. As a sponsor, you have to be over eighteen. However, specific states require you to be twenty-one to apply. Until your petition gets approved by the USCIS, you cannot bring your family to the States.

Your relationship’s legitimacy must be transparent, and you must be financially stable. The US government will hold you responsible for looking after your family’s financial affairs, for which you’ll have to sign an affidavit. If the USCIS is happy with the immigrant’s status, the National Visa Center (NVC) will require your family member to submit relevant documents and pictures along with the determined fees. A final interview and medical examination will conclude the process. But after the pandemic of 2019, vaccination status and the type of vaccine are now part of the overall evaluation.

4.How Long Does The Visa Process Take?

Unfortunately, a family immigration visa is no easy feat. This process can take years or even decades before your family can be legible. Visas get distributed on a priority basis. So immediate relatives such as spouses and minor children get their visas immediately after they clear the screening.

On the other hand, those with family preferences may need to wait longer. COVID has also caused several delays. According to 2017 data, more than 3.9 million families were on the waiting list. In 2018, the USCIS cleared cases filed over 13 years ago.

5.What Happens If The Visa Gets Rejected?

Your family’s immigration visa can get rejected even after the USCIS approves the initial paperwork. This is because there are numerous review steps and even a single discrepancy can create problems regardless of how many checkpoints you’ve cleared already. Common reasons a rejection occurs include:

  • The petition may be fraudulent.
  • The immigrant may be inadmissible.
  • Multiple criminal charges.
  • Incomplete paperwork.

In any case, you get referred to the section of the law according to which the visa got denied. An attorney can provide you with further guidelines for a reapplication. For example, if you get rejected based on section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which includes misrepresentation, criminal charges, and unlawful presence, you will have to file a waiver to seek legal forgiveness. This involves filing form I-601, a highly technical application requiring substantial evidence. Multiple forms will need to be filed if you have more than one charge levied on you. Once the USCIS approves of your pardon, a fresh cycle starts again.

Final Thoughts

Relocating your family is a hefty process. There is much at stake, so you want to ensure you get the application right. You can bring your family to you as a US citizen or a resident. The process involves numerous screenings and background checks at your end before you can sponsor your family. The petition you submit categorizes your relatives and puts them into the system.

If you are over the legal age and can financially support your family, your petition should face no difficulty. But, having a trustworthy lawyer in your corner can ensure better success. If your submitted application gets rejected, you need to refer to the cause of denial and work on clearing your application. Since the overall structure of family immigration is heavily layered, do your research before you apply.