Memphis Family Immigration Lawyers
Family-Based Immigration in the United States
The United States immigration system allows eligible individuals to receive family-based immigration visas to travel to and live in the country. There are many requirements that must be met, and numerous steps involved in the process. While this can seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. With an attorney by your side, you can help ensure the best chance of success in the visa application process.
At Donati Law, PLLC, we assist clients in a wide range of U.S. immigration matters, including family-based visas and immigration. Our attorneys have extensive experience and proudly represent clients in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and nationwide.
Contact our Memphis family immigration attorneys for help with your immigration matter. Call (901) 209-5500 today.
What Is Family-Based Immigration?
Family-based immigration allows U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (Green Card holders), and refugees living in the United States to bring their eligible family members into the country on certain visas. These visas are issued based on the circumstances and relationships between the person petitioning on behalf of the foreign family member (the “petitioner”) and the individual seeking the visa.
There are two main types of family immigration visas:
- Immediate Relative Visas: Immediate family visas are reserved for individuals who have a close familial relationship with the petitioner, such as a child, parent, or spouse. There is no limit to the number of immediate relative visas issued each year.
- Family Preference Visas: Family preference visas are issued to more distant family members, such as a brother or sister, of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. The number of family preference visas issued each year is limited.
U.S. immigration laws allow citizens to petition on behalf of a greater range of family members than lawful permanent residents. While lawful permanent residents can only petition for a family-based visa on behalf of a spouse or unmarried child, U.S. citizens are allowed to petition on behalf of a spouse, child, parent, or sibling.
U.S. citizens who wish to bring a foreign fiancé(e) to the United States may petition to do so by filing a Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e). Once the form has been filed, the foreign fiancé(e) may receive a K-1 visa, also known as a fiancé(e) visa, allowing them to travel to the U.S. Once the foreign fiancé(e) has entered the U.S., the couple must be lawfully married within 90 days. Once married, the foreign fiancé(e) may then begin the process of applying for a Green Card (lawful permanent resident status).
To be eligible for a K-1 visa, you and your fiancé(e) must meet the following requirements:
- The petitioner (the person requesting the visa on behalf of the foreign individual) must be a U.S. citizen
- You intend to be married within 90 days of entering or your foreign fiancé(e) entering the U.S.
- You and your fiancé(e) are lawfully permitted to marry in the U.S. (e.g., neither of you are currently married to someone else, you are both of lawful age, etc.)
- The two of you have met in person at least one time in the two years immediately preceding the filing of the petition
You may request to waive the final requirement if you can prove that meeting in person would result in extreme hardship to the petitioner and/or violate an established social practice or custom of the foreign fiancé(e)’s culture.
Additionally, if a foreign fiancé(e) has an unmarried child under the age of 21, the child may be eligible for a K-2 visa. This visa allows the child to travel with their parent to the U.S. with or after the foreign fiancé(e), but not before. Children of foreign fiancé(e)’s lawfully residing in the U.S. on K-2 visas may apply for lawful permanent residency when the foreign fiancé(e) and U.S. citizen fiancé(e) marry within 90 days of the foreign fiancé(e) entering the U.S.
The Family Immigration Process
Although there are slight variations in the process depending on what type of family immigration visa is being sought, the process typically begins with the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident filing a petition for a family-based visa on behalf of the foreign family member. Most often, the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident will file a Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form provides USCIS with information regarding the foreign family member’s visa eligibility for the requested category of family-based visa.
If USCIS approves the petition, the foreign family member will be issued a visa once a visa number becomes available. The foreign family member may then lawfully travel to and reside in the U.S. They may also apply for Green Card at this time.
This is a very high-level overview of the family immigration process in the U.S. There may be many other steps involved, including several eligibility requirements that must be met before the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident can file the initial petition. We encourage you to reach out to our Memphis family immigration attorneys at Donati Law, PLLC for more information and help with the process.
Helping Families Stay Together
At Donati Law, PLLC, we are dedicated to helping families bring their loved ones to the U.S. so that they can live, work, and be together. We are well-versed in the U.S.’s complex and often-changing immigration laws and can help you navigate the process. We prioritize client service, communication, and counsel; we will always keep you updated on the status of your petition or case and are happy to answer any questions you may have.
If you would like to discuss the specifics of your situation with a member of our team, or if you are simply seeking more information about bringing your family member to the United States, please do not hesitate to contact one of our Memphis family immigration attorneys today.
Reach our office online or by phone at (901) 209-5500.