MARRIAGE & FAMILY-BASED PETITIONS
Under United States immigration law, U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents may be able to sponsor some foreign national relatives to become permanent residents in the U.S. There are two types of visas for this purpose, separated by the type of relation.
Anaheim Immigration Attorney Fady Eskandar can assist families process petitions and applications for family immigration visas. Contact our offices today to get additional information about the visa process and get a free consultation.
The first category is for “Immediate Relatives”. There’s no legal limit to the number of foreign national immigrants allowed entry to the United States under this type of visa.
Immediate relatives who are potentially eligible for a K-1 visa include the following:
- IR-1: A spouse of a U.S. citizen
- IR-2: Unmarried children of U.S. citizens, who are below the age of 21
- IR-3: Orphans adopted by a U.S. citizen from abroad
- IR-4: Orphans from abroad who have a pending adoption by a U.S. citizen
- IR-5: Parents of adult U.S. citizens. Adults are defined as those aged 21 years or older
The second category of family members is the “Family Preference Immigrant” visa. These types of visas are capped in each category, according to the law.
- Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried children (sons or daughters) of U.S. citizens, as well as their minor children, if any
- Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, adult unmarried children, and minor children of a Lawful Permanent Resident
- Family Third Preference (F3): Married children of U.S. citizens, as well as their spouses and minor children, if any
- Family Fourth Preference (F4): Siblings of Adult U.S. citizens, as well as their spouses and minor children, if any
Grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and in-laws are unable to sponsor relatives for immigration purposes.
There is generally a large backlog for this second type of family sponsorship, as there are caps on both the total number of Family Preference Immigrant visas issued annually and the number of relatives allowed from each separate country in each preference category. Some categories may require years of waiting for a verdict on the petition.
Visas that become available will be issued to accepted individuals in the order the petitions were filed, also known as the applicant’s priority date. It’s advisable to file a petition on behalf of your relative as early as you can to reserve your place in the line. You can check the latest priority dates on the Visa Bulletin posted on the Department of State website.
In the event that your petition is denied, a denial letter will be sent to you with instructions about appealing the denial, if you wish to do so.
Fady Eskandar is a dedicated U.S. immigration attorney with a broad understanding of the United States’ immigration system. Contact our offices today for a free consultation about your case.
FIANCÉ & SPOUSAL VISAS
Separation from your family and loved ones can be very hard on you. We want to help you reunite with your relatives as soon as possible, which is why you should contact the Law Offices of Fady Eskandar today for a consultation about your immigration case.
A U.S. citizen may petition for a foreign national spouse or fiancé to be allowed entry to the United States under the K visa category. Children may accompany their foreign national parents under this visa petition. A variety of visas are available under the K visa categories, and it can be useful for you to seek the help of an attorney to guide you through the application process.
K-1 Fiancé Visa
K-1 visas may be granted to the foreign national fiancé of a U.S. citizen. Foreign national fiancés are those who have received an approved Form I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé, and who wish to go to the U.S. in order to marry their fiancé within the U.S. The K-1 Fiancé Visa allows an individual to gain entry to the United States for not more than 90 days in order to marry their U.S. citizen fiancé who has petitioned for their visa. Eligible children of the sponsored fiancé may be able to obtain a K-2 visa and accompany their foreign national parent to the United States. After the marriage has taken place, the K-1 visa holder may apply for an adjustment of status to a permanent resident of the United States. K-2 visa holders may attend school in the U.S., and may begin working once the marriage has taken place.
Some conditions apply to the K-1 visa status:
- A sponsor of a foreign national fiancé must be U.S. citizen. Both fiancés must be legally free to marry from the time the petition is filed until the marriage is complete. Lawful Permanent Residents may not sponsor a K-1 fiancé visa application.
- Proof must be provided that the U.S. citizen and foreign national fiancé have intention to get married within the 90 days provided. The marriage must happen within a 90 day period of the fiancé’s entrance to the U.S., and the marriage must be possible and legal in the state it will take place in.
- In most cases, the U.S. citizen petitioner and their foreign national fiancé must have met in person at least once within the 2 years preceding the visa application filing date. A hardship exemption can sometimes be granted by the USCIS if it’s proved that the two parties meeting would have been too difficult within the 2 years preceding the filing date, or that it’s against the cultural values of either the foreign national fiancé or the U.S. citizen petitioner to meet before their marriage.
Many individuals apply for K-1 fiancé visas to take advantage of the faster processing times. Fiancé visas fall into the category of nonimmigrant visas, so they are usually faster to process than an immigration visa. This visa helps to speed up the process of marriage to bring the two loved ones together as soon as possible. It’s advisable to enlist the help of an attorney to get all the documents and paperwork in order for a K-1 fiancé visa application.
K-3 Spouse Visa
Foreign national spouses of U.S. citizens may be eligible for a K-3 spouse visa. Under United States law, a spouse is defined as a husband or wife who has been legally wedded to the U.S. citizen. Same-sex spouses are now afforded the same benefits as opposite-sex spouses. Minor children of the foreign national spouse are also eligible for visa benefits. According to the law, living together does not qualify a couple as legally married for immigration benefits, no matter the duration of the cohabitation. Some common law marriages may be accepted, depending on the local laws in the country it took place in. If the relationship is polygamous in nature, the first legally wedded spouse is the only one who may qualify for spousal immigration benefits.
K-3 visas are meant to ease physical separation of a married foreign national and U.S. citizen while they wait for an immigrant visa to be processed. In order to apply for a K-3 Spouse visa, the U.S. citizen sponsor needs to first file an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. Evidence of this filing must be included in the petition for the K-3 visa, and it shows the intent of the foreign national to remain permanently in the U.S. If the U.S. citizen and foreign national married outside of the United States, it’s required that the K-3 visa application be filed in the country where they married. Unmarried children can accompany a K-3 visa holder by obtaining a K-4 visa. K-4 visas also allow the holder to stay in the U.S. while the holder’s immigrant visa is in process.
FOREIGN NATIONAL CHILDREN OF U.S. CITIZENS AND PERMANENT RESIDENTS
Separate immigrant visa petitions are required for every foreign national child of a U.S. citizen. For immediate relative petitions, children will not be able to receive derivative benefits. Petitions can be filed by U.S. citizens for their foreign national children under the age of 21 and unmarried, children over 21 who are unmarried, and also married children at any age. Lawful Permanent Residents may petition for their unmarried children under 21 or unmarried children over 21.
After a U.S. citizen has filed the Form I-130, foreign national children may apply to receive a K-4 nonimmigrant visa. It will allow the child or children to stay within the U.S. as their immigration petition is being processed by USCIS.
The same applies to lawful permanent residents who wish to apply for their foreign national children to come to the United States. A separate petition for his/her children should be filed if he/she intends to apply for citizenship anytime during the pendency of the petition with the immigration authorities.
FOREIGN NATIONAL PARENTS OF U.S. CITIZENS
U.S. citizens may file a petition to allow their foreign national parents to live in the United States as Lawful Permanent Resident green card holders. To petition, the U.S. citizen must be 21 years old or above. Green card holders are not eligible to petition for their parents to receive permanent resident status.