The purpose of a Visa Petition is to prove to the authorities that your petitioner has some interest in helping you to legally migrate to the U.S., which makes family petitions among the most commonly sought and applied for. Proving you have a legitimate interest in a family member’s migration seems to just make sense.
Don’t be fooled, though. Your application packet has to be pristine and completed correctly the first time. This means the forms have to be filled out properly, the documentation has to be organized and persuasive and everything must arrive at the appropriate USCIS immigration office. Because this is potentially a life-changing opportunity, you want to get everything right and not take any chances.
Our attorneys know exactly how important this process is and what it could mean for you and your loved ones. With our experience with family petitions, especially for parents, we’ll take the weight off your shoulders and carry you every step of the way.
One of the easiest and most common ways to apply for immigration status is through a family member who is a U.S. citizen or legal resident. These visas are grouped into two categories—limited and unlimited.
Unlimited Visa Category
This includes the following individuals:
- spouse or widow(er) of a U.S. citizen
- unmarried children under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen
- parent of a U.S. citizen who is over the age of 21
There are no limits on the number of visas available in this category.
Limited Visa Categories
The limited category has four subsections and means that the following individuals must wait for a visa to become available:
First family preference (F1):
- siblings of a U.S. citizen
- sons and daughters over the age of 21
Second family preference (F2):
- spouses of legal residents
- minor children of legal residents
- unmarried sons and daughters over the age of 20 of legal residents and their children
Third family preference (F3):
- married sons and daughters of US citizens
- their spouses and children
Fourth family preference (F4):
- brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens
- their spouses and children so long as the U.S. citizen is 21 years of age or older
Immigrants in the limited categories may have to wait for a period of years before a visa is available. There is no wait for those in the F1 category.
The relevant petition for immigrants relying on their American or permanent resident relatives to obtain a visa is Form I-130, Immigrant Petition from Relative. The petition is sent to the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) that will send out a notice of approval (Form I-797). The CIS then sends the petition to the Immigrant Visa Processing Center for processing.
Along with the visa application, the sponsoring relative must submit an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864). The relative must be able to demonstrate that he or she can support all sponsored family members at 125% above the mandated poverty line.
Ineligibility Based on Health or Adverse Activities
There are some applicants to whom U.S. immigration services will not issue visas, including those with the following conditions:
- communicable diseases such as tuberculosis
- drug addicts
- those diagnosed with a dangerous physical or mental disorder
- immigrants who have committed an aggravated felony
- those on a terrorist list or associated with a terrorist organization or subversive group
A physician who wishes to practice medicine in the US must pass an exam to qualify for a visa, though the physician can apply for a waiver.
If you or your family member is seeking legal resident status or citizenship in the U.S., it’s important to have an attorney who can assist you with this process. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment with an attorney who can help you with all of your immigration needs.
Family Petition Processing Time
As one of the most common visa petitions received by the USCIS offices, the I-130 visa petition is by no means an overnight process. However, with proper packaging and knowledgeable legal counsel, you can be prepared for next steps and know what to expect.While each and every case is unique, and exact processing times can’t be predicted, it does help to understand the process.
- When the USCIS office receives your petition, they’ll review it to make sure it’s complete. If it’s acceptable, you’ll receive a Receipt Notice, notifying you that your application packet was received in full. If, however, something is missing, lost or incomplete, they may contact you to complete the application or return it altogether, which can significantly delay your processing time.
- Once you have your Receipt Notice, your application will be placed in line for review. And this is where the wait begins. Some relatives are a higher priority status or ‘preference relative’ and those applicants will be placed at the top of the file. This is particularly true if the USCIS office processing your application is behind or backed up. Depending on a number of variables, wait times for review can be anywhere from several weeks to several months.
- When the I-130 is approved, the petitioner will be notified by sending an official approval notice. From here, wait times for an adjustment of status, consular processing or visa approval are widely varied, depending, again, on any number of circumstances. But wait times of weeks or months are highly likely.
Because the immigration system is almost always backed up, it’s well worth your time to engage a family petition attorney to help you through the long and tedious process. It’s not uncommon for documents to be misplaced by the USCIS or delays to last even longer than they should without any communication from the officials handling your petition. In those instances, a dedicated attorney is often your only hope for pushing through the backlog and keeping your petition moving through the system.
Cost of the I-130 Family Immigration Petition
Current filing fees for the I-130 are $420, although they are always subject to change and the USCIS adjusts them often. If you’re sponsoring more than one family member, a separate form and filing fee will be required for each and every family member being sponsored.
Filing fees with the USCS are non-negotiable but our family petition lawyers may be able to help you spread the payment out over time, making it easier on your wallet.