Family Immigration

Family Immigration Lawyer NYC

FAMILY IMMIGRATION ATTORNEYS WITH 50 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE

With 50+ years of immigration experience, our family immigration lawyers at Spar & Bernstein will do everything in their power to help you reunite with your family in the United States.

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WHY HIRE SPAR & BERNSTEIN FOR FAMILY IMMIGRATION?

If you need to legalize your family’s immigration status, our experienced team at Spar & Bernstein will review your situation, determine eligibility solutions and prepare you extensively for the process, from interviews to paperwork and more.

WHAT IS FAMILY-BASED IMMIGRATION?

Family-based immigration allows you to become a US permanent resident through relationships with family members who reside in the US and are US permanent residents or US citizens.

To begin this process, an immigration petition for a family member, who is also known as a “Beneficiary,” can be filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by a “Sponsor.” The Sponsor can be a:

  • US citizen
  • Legal permanent resident

US citizens can petition for their:

  • Spouse
  • Spouse’s child under the age of 21, provided the marriage occurred before the child’s 18 birthday
  • Parent (If the son/daughter is over 21 years of age)
  • Son or daughter over the age of 21
  • Brother or sister

Permanent residents can petition for their:

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried children
  • Spouse’s unmarried children under the age of 21

TYPES OF FAMILY-BASED IMMIGRANT VISAS

The two types of family-based immigrant visas in the US include:

  • Immediate Relative Visa: Visas for close family members of a US citizen, such as a spouse, child under 21, or parent. There is no annual limit for this type of visa.
  • Family Preference Visa: Visas for more distant relatives of a US citizen and specified relationships with a lawful permanent resident. There is a limit to the number of visas that are permitted in this category per fiscal year.

FAMILY PREFERENCE CATEGORIES

Family preference categories include family and relative relationships outside of the immediate relative category on the basis of which US citizens and lawful permanent residents may petition for family immigration.

  • F1, First preference category: Unmarried sons and daughters (21+ years of age) of US citizens
  • F2A, Second preference category: Spouses and children (unmarried and under 21 years of age) of lawful permanent residents
  • F2B, Second preference category: Unmarried sons and daughters (21+ years of age) of lawful permanent residents
  • F4, Third preference category: Married children of US citizens
  • F4, Fourth preference category: Brothers and sisters of US citizens (if the US citizen is 21 years of age or older

Your preference category will affect the amount time you have to wait until an immigrant visa becomes available for you. For more information on this, contact our knowledgeable attorneys at Spar & Bernstein.

FAMILY IMMIGRATION FAQS

Can I Help One Of My Family Members Immigrate To The US?
To help family members immigrate to the US, you must be a:
  • US citizen
  • Permanent resident (Green Card holder)
  • Refugee admitted as such within the past two years
  • Asylee granted asylum within the past two years
The documents needed and the application processes differ depending on the status of the sponsor. To determine the options in your specific situation, contact an immigration law firm that specializes in family immigration. At Spar & Bernstein, we have helped tens of thousands of people reunite with their families and our experienced attorneys will guide and support you in your efforts to bring your family members to the US
What Are The Obligations Of The Sponsor?
The Sponsor signs a legally binding affidavit to guarantee they will support the Beneficiary. This support includes maintaining the life standard of the Beneficiary at a level not lower than 125% of the national poverty level until the Beneficiary:
  • Becomes a US citizen
  • Has worked in the US for 40 qualifying quarters (approximately ten years)
What Is An Immediate Relative?
An immediate relative is a close family member of a US citizen, such as a spouse, children under 21 years of age, or parents of children over the age of 21.
What Is A Principal Beneficiary?
A principal beneficiary is an alien family member on whose behalf a visa petition is filed.
What Is A Derivative Beneficiary?
A derivative beneficiary is an alien for who a visa petition cannot be directly filed but who is allowed to follow the principal beneficiary based on a parent-child or spousal relationship. Examples include unmarried children younger than 21 years of age or the spouse of the principal beneficiary.
What Is The Application Process For Family Members Of US Citizens?
To file a petition for a Green Card for a family member:
  • File Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, to establish the relationship between you and your relative. This step will place you in the visa processing line.
  • If your relative is in the United States and they qualify, they may be eligible to apply for an adjustment of status to become lawful permanent residents upon the availability of a visa number. Many family members are not eligible to apply for an adjustment of status despite being in the United States. Check with Spar Bernstein on your specific qualifications.
  • If your relative is not in the US, your petition will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC).
  • The National Visa Center will collect biometric data, financial documentation, police clearances, and other documentation to qualify your relatives for lawful residence.
  • The National Visa Center will send your petition to the respective US consulate when a visa is available.
  • Your relative will be informed of the next steps to take.
The preference category of your family member will determine how long it will take to receive an immigrant visa number. After filing your petition, you can check the progress online on the My Case Status page on the USCIS website. To find information about visa availability, visit the US Department of State’s Visa Bulletin page. Our experienced family immigration lawyers can help you navigate through the application process and explain next steps.
What Is The Application Process For Relatives Of Permanent Residents?
To petition for a Green Card for your relative:
  • File Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.
  • Provide evidence of your status to prove you are a permanent resident.
  • Provide proof of your relationship with your relative, such as a marriage certificate, birth certificate, or divorce decree.
  • Provide evidence of any name change for you or your relative.
  • If your relative is in the United States and they qualify, they may be eligible to apply for an adjustment of status to become lawful permanent residents upon the availability of a visa number. Many family members are not eligible to apply for an adjustment of status despite being in the United States. Check with Spar & Bernstein on your specific qualifications.
  • If your relative does not reside in the US, the petition will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC).
  • The National Visa Center will collect biometric data, financial documentation, police clearances, and other documentation to qualify your relatives for lawful residence.
  • The National Visa Center will forward your petition to the respective US consulate when a visa is available.
  • Your relative will be notified on how to proceed.
The waiting time for a visa number may vary depending on the family preference category. For support and documentation assistance, contact us to speak with a knowledgeable family immigration attorney.
What Is The Application Process For Relatives Of Refugees And Asylees?
If you were granted asylee status or have entered the US as a refugee in the past two years, you can petition for certain family members, such as a spouse or children who were not married when you first applied for asylee or refugee status. To petition for refugee and asylee family members:
  • File Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition.
  • In some situations, the USCIS may grant a waiver of the two-year filing deadline based on humanitarian reasons.
To ensure you don’t miss an important step in the process, contact us to speak with a knowledgeable family immigration attorney.
What Documents Do I Need In Order To File An Immigration Petition For My Alien Spouse, If I Am A US Citizen?
To file an immigration petition for your alien spouse, prepare the following documents:
  • A copy of your spouse’s birth certificate
  • A copy of any children’s birth certificates
  • Form I-130 along with the required accompanying documents
  • A copy of your US passport or a copy of your birth certificate showing your name
  • If you were not born in the United States, but are a US citizen, you need a copy of one of the following two documents: your US passport or your Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship
  • A copy of your marriage certificate
  • A copy of any death certificates, divorce decrees, or annulment decrees serving as proof that any previous marriage by you or your spouse was ended legally
  • Two recent color photos of you
  • Two recent color photos of your spouse
  • I-130A forms, for your spouse
If I Want To Marry A Foreign National, Should I File An I-129F Fiancée Visa Or An I-130 Spouse Petition?
You can only file a fiancée visa if you are:
  • A US citizen
  • Not yet married
  • Not going to marry until your fiancée comes to the US
After your fiancée is admitted to the US, you must marry within 90 days and apply for their green card. If you are not yet a US citizen, you are already married, or you plan to marry the person before they come to the United States, your only option is to file an I-130 spouse petition after your marriage.
What Questions Are Asked At The Marriage-Based Green Card Interview?
The purpose of the marriage-based Green Card Interview is to prove that the applicant entered the marriage in good faith and not for immigration benefits. The interview questions may be grouped into several categories:
  • Questions about the beginning of your relationship (how you met, when the relationship became romantic, where and when the proposal took place and more)
  • Questions about your wedding (date and place of the wedding, number of guests, honeymoon location and more)
  • Questions about your relationship and life together (number of rooms in your home, whether you have a joint bank account, what bank you use, type of furniture in your home, etc.)
  • Questions about your spouse (education, favorite meal, work schedule, mutual friends and more)
  • Questions about your joint financial relationship between you and your spouse
What Should I Do If My Spouse Or Significant Other Has Become Abusive And I Don’t Have Status In the United States?
Whether you are a male or female, if you married a US citizen or permanent resident, you may apply for a Green Card on your own under the Violence Against Women’s Act (“VAWA”) if your significant other becomes violent. Application conditions include:
  • You believed you were entering into a legally valid marriage
  • You married in good faith (not just to get a Green Card)
  • You lived with your spouse
  • You suffered physical abuse or extreme emotional abuse
  • You are a person of good moral character
You may apply for a Green Card up to two years after divorcing an abusive spouse, provided that you have not remarried. If you have been in the US for at least three years, have demonstrated good moral character for that period of time, and were abused by a spouse or intended spouse who is a US citizen or permanent resident, you may also apply for cancellation of removal in Immigration Court proceedings. This will result in obtaining a green card. If you have experienced domestic abuse, our experienced family immigration attorneys at Spar & Bernstein will research your case, identify your options and file the necessary documents to help keep you safe.  
Can My Children Who Are US Citizens Petition For Me?
Yes, if your children are US citizens and they are at least 21 years old, they can petition for you as an immediate relative. Contact Spar Bernstein to speak with a knowledgeable family immigration lawyer to discuss your next steps.
My Sibling Who Is A US Citizen, Petitioned For Me A Long Time Ago. Now A Visa Is Available For Me. Can My Children And Spouse Apply For A Green Card With Me?
Yes, your spouse and your unmarried children under 21 years of age can apply for a Green Card with you. Under certain circumstances, your child still may qualify for a green card over the age of 21 under the Child Status Protection Act.
I Filed Form I-130 For A Family Member When I Was A Legal Permanent Resident. I Am Now A US Citizen. What Steps Should I Take?
If you filed a family petition for your spouse and children under 21 years of age as a legal permanent resident but your status has changed to a US citizen, you can upgrade your petition from family second preference to an immediate relative. To do so, send evidence of your US citizenship to the National Visa Center. Such evidence may include your naturalization certificate or US passport. If you upgrade your petition, your family member’s wait for an immigrant visa should be shorter.
Can I Apply For A Green Card As A Family Preference Immigrant If I Am Currently In The US?
To be eligible for an adjustment of status as a family preference immigrant while you are in the US, you must meet the following requirements:
  • Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status has been submitted
  • You were inspected and either admitted or paroled into the U. S.
  • At the time you filed your Form I-485, you were physically present in the US
  • You are eligible for an immigrant visa
  • An immigrant visa is available to you at the time you file your Form I-485
  • You are in legal status at the time you file your I-485 adjustment application
  • You have a valid relationship with the family member who filed Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative for you
  • The applicable bars to adjustment of status don’t apply to you
  • You are admissible for lawful permanent residence in the US, eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility or eligible for another form of relief
  • According to the USCIS, you merit the favorable exercise meaning the positive factors in outweigh the negative factors. In your case
I Am A US Citizen And Would Like To Petition For My 20-Year-Old Child. If My Child Turns 21 After I File The Petition, Will They Need To Wait For An Available Visa?
The Child Status Protection Act may allow your child to qualify even if they turned 21 after you filed the petition. For more information, contact a knowledgeable family immigration lawyer to help you with the process.
I Married My Spouse While My Employment-Based Permanent Residency Petition Was Pending. Do I Need To File A Petition For My Spouse Before She Joins Me In The US? 
Since you were married before you became a lawful permanent resident, your spouse is eligible to join you without the need to submit a separate petition. After you obtain your permanent residence file Form I-824 with the USCIS and request that they notify the US Consulate in your spouse’s country to enable your spouse to apply for an immigrant visa.