Family Based Immigration

U.S. Permanent Residency (“Green Cards”) through Family

Family-based immigration constitutes one of the principal means of immigration to the United States. Family members can immigrate either as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen or through the family preference system. Immediate relatives face no cap or quota on the number of visas available each year and can obtain immigrant visas fairly quickly by submitting the appropriate forms and evidence of the qualifying family relationship to the USCIS.

Immediate relatives include:

  1. spouses of U.S. citizens;
  2. unmarried minor children of U.S. citizens; and
  3. parents of U.S. citizens over age 21.

Under the family preference system the following persons may qualify for immigration:

  1. adult children (unmarried and married) of U.S. citizens;
  2. brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens;
  3. spouses of Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs); and
  4. unmarried children (both minor and adult) of LPRs.

Quotas for Family Visas

Nevertheless, under the U.S. quota system, the family preference system, there are only a limited number of visas available every year and intending immigrants may face lengthy delays before a visa becomes available.

The Department of State is responsible for administering the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) relating to the numerical limitations on immigrant visa issuances. Visa allotments are made only on the basis of the total applicants reported documentarily qualified each month. Demand for visa numbers can fluctuate from one month to another, with the inevitable impact on cut-off dates. You can view the latest U.S. Department of State Visa Bulletin which summarizes the availability of immigrant numbers for each month.

How we help: Our immigration attorneys will prepare and submit all necessary forms, including applying for accompanying benefits such as travel and work authorization.

Our firm also assists with K visas which allow a fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen to enter the U.S. to complete the marriage in the United States.

Waiver of the Joint Filing Requirement for Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence

A foreign national (“beneficiary”) obtains conditional permanent residence when they marry a U.S. citizen (“petitioner”) and are granted immigrant status by USCIS within two years of the marriage. The two-year period is measured from the date of marriage to the date conditional residency is granted. In order to remove conditions on a beneficiary’s residency, the petitioner and beneficiary may file a joint petition to remove these conditions. This petition must be filed within 90 days of the second anniversary of the grant of conditional residency status. If the parties cannot file jointly for some reason, certain conditional residents are eligible to obtain a waiver of the joint filing requirement.

If the conditional resident is unable to file jointly with the U.S. citizen spouse, they may be eligible for a waiver of the requirement if they can demonstrate:

  1. That they entered into the marriage in good faith, but that the marriage was terminated in divorce;
  2. That they entered into the marriage on good faith, but the marriage was terminated due to the death of the U.S. citizen spouse;
  3. That they entered into the marriage in good faith, and were subjected to physical battering and/or extreme mental cruelty; and/or
  4. That they would suffer extreme hardship if returned to their country of origin.

A conditional resident may assert multiple grounds of eligibility for a waiver of the joint filing requirements where available. After the conditional resident’s application and interview with USCIS, USCIS will determine their eligibility for the joint-filing requirement waiver. If approved, the individual’s conditions will be removed from their residency, and they will receive Lawful Permanent Resident status.

To speak with an immigration attorney about family immigration contact Grossman Young & Hammond.

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