U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents can apply for their close family members to become legal residents of the United States either through a consulate abroad or, in some cases, right here in the United States.
Citizens and residents can file petitions for spouses, parents, and children. Citizens, but not residents can also petition for brothers and sisters. A child cannot petition for a parent unless the child is over the age of 21 years. Spouses of United States citizens and parents of United States citizens over the age of 21 are considered “immediate relatives” and have immediate access to an immigrant visa. All other relations are subject to numerical visa caps and have to wait for a visa to become available. Some countries have unusually long waits, specifically India, Mexico, China, and the Philippines. The wait for a visa can range from a year or two to over twenty years. Intending immigrants can check their place in line (called a priority date) using the Visa Bulletin published monthly by the U.S. Department of State (https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin.html).
When the immigrant visa petition is approved, the alien relative must apply for either admission to the United States or adjustment of status if he or she is already in the United States. Aliens who are in the United States without permission cannot adjust their statuses inside the United States unless they have had either a family petition or labor certification on file before April 30, 2001. Spouses of U.S. citizens who entered the country legally may adjust their status in the United States even if they overstayed their lawful admission. Aliens who have been in the United States without permission must apply for a special waiver before leaving the United States, or they may find themselves barred from reentering the United States for 10 years, and in some cases, permanently.
Family immigration should be a straightforward process, but it is a process that is riddled with hidden dangers. It is always worthwhile to hire competent counsel to assist you in immigrating family members. At Berke Law Offices, Inc., we have immigrated thousands of family members over the last 27 years.
We have successfully immigrated family members with criminal convictions, prior deportations, prior immigration violations, and cases in which the petitioning relative has died or a marriage has ended due to domestic abuse.
Berke Law Offices, Inc. also has a track record of success in appealing denials of unsuccessful family immigration cases.