Immigration lawyers help their clients with a wide range of issues relating to visiting and relocating to the United States. They may work with employment visas and asylum claims. But among the more emotionally significant cases, they help with family-based immigration claims.
Family-based immigration is the most commonly used basis for legal immigration to the United States. Under current US law, US citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) can sponsor certain family members for a visa that permits permanent residence – what most people call a green card.
Today’s family-based immigration comes from the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which established that family relationships would be the primary way people immigrate to the United States. Today nearly two of every three legal immigrants to the US does so through family-based immigration. The primary criticism of this type of immigration is its potential to create a chain of migration as each new immigrant can sponsor more immigrants.
Citizens and LPRs can only sponsor certain relatives for family visas: Citizens and LPRs may sponsor
Family preference categories can also support a family visa. These include:
Note that US citizens and LPRs cannot sponsor any family members not listed here, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and cousins, for immigration.
Over the past few decades, each immigrant has sponsored an average of approximately 3.5 relatives, including their own spouse and children.
The government issues a maximum of 480,000 family preference visas each fiscal year. This limit was set in 1990 by Congress. Immediate relative visas have no limits, but the number issued gets subtracted from the 480,000.
Family-based applications have experienced a heavy backlog for decades, with some applications pending since 2001. As of last year, nearly 4 million people were stuck in this backlog. As one goes down the list of preferences, the backlog increases, with some married adult children (F-3) waits increasing by 900 percent. It can be worse for F-1s, some of whom have been waiting for a green card for over two decades.
No immigration attorney can, of course, guarantee the speed or success of your family-based immigration application. However, the complexities of immigration law and regulation mean that using an attorney increases the likelihood of success and speed. If you face a family-based immigration issue, contact us to schedule an initial consultation and review your matter. See how we can assist you in handling your immigration matter.
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