Family petitions are a vital part of the immigration process through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. These petitions were established through the Immigration and Nationality Act to reunite immigrant families with their loved ones. Family petitions are for persons living outside of the country or those who have lawfully entered the United States temporarily to be granted permanent legal resident status (green card).
Who can apply for a Family Petition?
There is a different process for a United States citizen versus a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) to file a family petition for a loved one. A United States citizen can file a petition for permanent residency for a spouse or an unmarried child of any age. They can petition to sponsor parents or siblings for permanent legal status if the petitioner is over the age of 21 years. Lawful permanent residents can file a petition for immediate family members only, including spouses and unmarried children of any age. In petitioning and sponsoring a foreign national, the petitioner assumes financial responsibility for their family member. A separate petition must be filed for each member of a family.
Criteria for a Family Petition for a Spouse
When applying for a spouse’s permanent legal status, there must be proof of the relationship to prevent marriages only for immigration purposes. In addition to a marriage certificate, the petitioner must present evidence such as the birth certificates of their children and signed affidavits of persons that know the relationship. Biographical information for the spouse, as well as proof of co-ownership of property or having lived together can be provided. Supportive documentation can include property deeds, leases, photos, e-mails, and messages. If there was a prior marriage of either party, divorce papers must be presented. When approved, those couples who have been married for less than two years receive a conditional green card. Within 90 days of the green card expiration date, it is necessary to apply for removal of the condition or face deportation.
What is the Next Step?
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service can either approve or deny a family petition. If the person already legally resides in the United States and is approved, they apply to adjust their green card status. For an approved petition, if the relative lives outside of the United States they apply for a visa through the National Visa Center.
Immediate relatives, including spouses and children, are prioritized when they are being processed for entrance into the United States. Other family members are placed on a waiting list, as there are limits on the number of people admitted each year.
It is advisable to have the representation of an experienced immigration attorney for the following:
- A denial based on inadmissibility under the Immigration and Nationality Act requires legal counsel’s skill and knowledge. Examples of denial are health conditions that threaten the property or welfare of the applicant or others, immigrants who have been previously removed, or failure to provide mandated vaccination documentation.
- Persons denied a family petition based on criminal history who are seeking to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility.
- Relatives living in the United States without legal status require legal representation for the best possible outcome.
- Persons with temporary legal status who have been approved to remain in the United States permanently and require assistance with an adjustment through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service.
The Law Office of Ilia Garrity Lopez, PLLC offers caring, compassionate, and aggressive representation to guide you through the immigration process. As advocates for justice, our legal team works collaboratively with our clients to help reach their goals. Family petitions can be a long-term process, especially for extended family members. We know how to protect your interests and keep the process moving forward.
Contact the Law Office of Ilia Garrity Lopez, PLLC for a free, initial consultation for most services. We are available in our Orlando, Florida office for phone consults or video-conferencing. Our focus is on finding solutions for even the most complicated cases. Call us at 407-777-7106.