International borders and oceans can strain family relationships. When your loved ones live in another country, your highest priorities is likely to complete the immigration paperwork and bring everyone together. The process can be long, and complicated. The family-based immigration attorney at Nagell Law will help you consider your options, carefully prepare the necessary forms and documents, counsel you through any interviews with immigration officials, and see you through to reuniting your family.
Bringing family members into the United States through a green card, or legal permanent resident (LPR) status, depends on the relationship between the sponsor and the foreign national. How closely you are related to your family member could affect your chances of being granted LPR status, and how long that process will take.
Green Card Petitions for Immediate Relatives
The immediate relatives of U.S. citizens get top priority in the immigration process. There is no limit to how many Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas may be issued in any given year. That makes this the fastest and easiest family-based immigration process. Immediate relatives fall into five visa categories:
- IR-1: Spouses of U.S. citizens
- IR-2: Unmarried children of U.S. citizens under age 21
- IR-3: Foreign-adopted orphan children of U.S. citizens
- IR-4: Orphans to be adopted by U.S. citizens through the American family courts
- IR-5: Parents of U.S. Citizens over age 21
It is common for children born in the United States to try to sponsor their parents' or siblings' immigration petitions. However, only adult children over age 21 can sponsor those petitions. Fiancees of U.S. citizens can also apply for K1 visas. These visas are designed to facilitate marriages on American soil and shortening couples' time apart while they wait for IR-1 approvals.
Adjustment of Status
There are many routes to LPR status. Often, students, employees, and visitors find their legal status expiring when they do not want to leave the United States. When temporary visas run out, immigrants —especially those with an immediate relative who is a U.S. citizen and willing to petition on their behalf — may seek an adjustment of status to obtain a green card and remain permanently in the United States. Depending on your circumstances, and what category of LPR petition you qualify for, this process can take quite some time. It is crucial to begin the process early enough to protect your employment authorization, ability to travel, and legal right to remain in the United States.
Family Preference Immigration Petitions
Immigrating to the U.S. isn't limited to immediate relatives, but the process for more distant relatives is longer, and more limited. Distant relatives, like grandparents, aunts and uncles, in-laws, or cousins, cannot sponsor family-based immigration petitions. Because of this, relatives often create series of petitions as each relative sponsors another as he or she becomes eligible to do so.
Even then, green card holders and U.S. citizens seeking to sponsor relatives must wait to receive one of a limited number of family-based lawful permanent resident green cards in each of these categories:
- F1: Unmarried adult children of U.S. citizens, along with their minor children
- F2: Immediate spouses and young children of green card holders
- F3: Married adult children of U.S. citizens, along with their spouses and minor children
- F4: Adult siblings of U.S. citizens, along with their spouses and children
Contact a Family-Based Immigration Attorney in St. Paul, Minnesota
U.S. immigration law can be intimidating. It can feel as though there are new rules every day, and the consequences for misunderstanding those rules could be life-changing. Get the help of an experienced immigration attorney, who will help you understand the process, ensure everything is filed properly, and protect your family from losing their legal status. Contact St. Paul Minnesota Immigration Attorney Peter Nagell today to schedule a consultation and start your move toward permanent legal status.