Moving away from family and friends and starting a new life in the U.S. is a challenging and emotional process. This is made more difficult if you must leave behind a family member to gain residency before formally bringing them to live with you in the United States. A lawful permanent resident (Green Card Holder) or U.S. Citizens may file a petition on behalf of their spouse, child under the age of 21 as well as unmarried adult children. U.S. Citizens may also sponsor married children, siblings and parents.
The first step for every immigration petition is to gather the necessary documents. These documents include but are not limited to:
- Proof of your U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency, such as a passport, green card, or birth certificate
- Family member’s birth certificate
- Proof of your marriage to your spouse, such as a marriage certificate
- Proof of family relationship such as birth certificates for children
- Proof of your family member's identity, such as a passport or government-issued ID
- Proof of your financial support for your spouse, such as tax returns, pay stubs, or bank statements (Form I-864, Affidavit of Support)
- Divorce Decrees
- Military records, if applicable
- Criminal Records, if applicable
The first stage of the Green card involves filing an I-130 Petition and supporting documents for the family member with United states citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In certain instances, if the family member is in the USA, you can also file the final stage–the Adjustment of Status Application which is the final stage of the Green Card. If they are overseas, you will have to wait until the I130 Petition is approved to file the DS-260 and additional documents with the National Visa Center. A visa must be available to your family member before you can file this stage.
Once the National Visa Center has completed the review of the documents they will forward the case to the pertinent US. Consulate for an interview. This process can take several months to several years depending on the family relationship. For example, a US Citizen sponsoring a spouse can take 9 months -15 months. In contrast, if a US. Citizen is sponsoring a sibling , it will take over a decade before a visa is available and an interview scheduled with the Consulate.
Filing an immigration petition for a family member requires careful attention to detail and patience. Attorney Karen-Lee Pollak and the experienced team at our firm are here to guide you through the eligibility and application process to increase your chances of success in bringing your spouse to the United States. If you have questions or are attempting to help family members immigrate to the U.S., reach out to our firm online, or call (214) 919-5250 to schedule a consultation.