We assist our clients in petitioning family members to lawfully enter or remain the United States. For individuals interested in family petitioning, we encourage you call one of our CARECEN offices, where a trained team member will pre-screen you and schedule and appointment with an attorney.
If the Petitioner is a U.S. citizen...
The relatives of U.S. citizens have visas immediately available to them, meaning that they do not have to wait in line for one. A citizen must be petitioning for an immediate relative to be eligible for an immigrant visa. This category includes the following:
Spouses of U.S. citizens
Children (unmarried and under 21 years old) of U.S. citizens
Parents of U.S. citizens (the petitioning citizen must be 21 years old or older)
Family members that are not immediate relatives of U.S. citizen are subject to preference categories in the petitioning process and the visas for which they are applying are subject to annual numerical limits. These preference categories are the following:
First Preference: unmarried sons and daughters of a U.S. citizen that are 21 years old or older
Second Preference (2A): spouses of green card holders, unmarried children under 21 years old of permanent residents
Second Preference (2B): unmarried sons and daughters that are 21 years old or older of permanent residents
Third Preference: married sons and daughters (any age) of a U.S. citizen
Fourth Preference: brother and sisters of a U.S. citizen that is 21 years old or older
A visa becomes available based on the priority date, that is, when the Petition for Alien Relative (I-130) is filed.
After a visa number becomes available for your relative already in the U.S., he or she may adjust status to become a permanent resident (green card holder) by submitting an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
If your relative is outside of the U.S., he or she will undergo consular processing. Your petition will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) and they will forward your petition to the appropriate U.S. consulate when a visa becomes available and your relative will be notified about how to proceed.
There are also special visas for fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens and the children of that fiancé(e) living abroad that are unmarried and under 21 years old that permits them to enter the U.S. for 90 days so that a marriage ceremony takes place in the U.S. Once married, the Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) may be filed and can result in issuing permanent residents. While the relative petition is pending adjudication, the U.S. citizen spouse and his or her minor children are admitted to the U.S. as nonimmigrants on a special visas.
If the Petitioner is a Permanent Resident...
Permanent residents can petition for a much more limited pool of relatives than U.S. citizens can and they are subject to longer wait times.
Whereas immediate relatives of U.S. citizens have visas immediately available for them, this category of relatives does not exist for LPR petitioners. All eligible LPR relatives are subject to visa bulletin waiting times, which is based on the date that the Petition for Alien Relative is filed and the preference category of the relative for which the LPR is petitioning.
LPRs are also only allowed to petition for a narrower pool of relatives than U.S. citizens. For example, an LPR can only petition for:
Spouse (husband or wife)
Unmarried children under the age of 21
Unmarried son or daughter of any age
An LPR, unlike a U.S. citizen, cannot petition for parents, married sons and daughters of any age, and brothers or sisters.
If the Petitioner is a Refugee/Asylee...
If you entered the U.S. as a refugee or were granted asylum within the past two years, you may petition for the following relatives:
Children (unmarried and under 21 when you applied for asylum or refugee status)
You can only make this petition if you were are the principal refugee or asylee, meaning that you were not granted refugee or asylee status directly or through a relative.
In order to petition for a refugee/asylee derivative relative, you must remain in refugee or asylee status or have become a permanent resident (i.e., received a green card). The family relationship had to exist before you came to the U.S.
If you have become a U.S. citizen through naturalization since being declared a refugee or asylee, you may not petition family members as derivatives. Instead, you must follow instructions listed in the "If you are a U.S. citizen" section above.
USCIS does not charge you any fees for filing the Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition (I-730). This form must be filed two years before you were declared a refugee or asylee.
These cases are subject to the same family petition guidelines and adjudication process established by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).