Family Preference Immigration 


Family Preference visas refer to:

·      Unmarried children of US citizens who are older than 21 and their minor children;

·      Spouses, minor children, and unmarried older children of Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs)

·      Married sons and daughters of US citizens, as well as their spouses and children; and finally,

·      Siblings of US citizens and their minor children, provided the US citizen is at least 21 years old.

The United States sets a fiscal year limit on the number of Family Preferences visas often exceeds the available number of visas, there is often a waiting period for those who apply.  These visas will then be issued in the chronological order in which the visa petitions were applied for by the visa applicant’s U.S. sponsor.  In certain categories with many approved petitions compared to available visas, there may be a waiting period of several years or more, before the family preference visa is issued.

Requirements for obtaining a family-based visa 

The first step in obtaining a family-based immigration visa is the filing of a Petition for Alien Relative by the sponsoring relative with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), an agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

U.S. citizen sponsors must be at least 21 years old to file a petition for a sibling or a parent, and, although there is no minimum age for other categories of family-based immigrants, a U.S. citizen or LPR must be at least 18 years of age and have a residence in the U.S. before he or she can sign an Affidavit of Support, which is required for an immigrant visa for a spouse and other relatives of U.S. sponsors. In all cases, the U.S. sponsor must maintain a principal residence in the United States, and plan to live there in the foreseeable future.

In addition to these age and residence requirements, a number of other requirements must be met that relate to the production of certain documents, the filing of certain USCIS forms, and the payment of fees. Among these requirements are:

•   Applicant must possess a passport that is valid at least 60 days beyond the issuing of the visa

•   Applicant must file an Affidavit of Support from the U.S. sponsor, showing that the immigrant has adequate financial support;

•   Applicant must supply two 2x2 photographs;

•   Applicant must submit certain civil documents, such as a birth certificate; marriage certificate (if applicable); military records (if applicable); police records; and so on;

•   Applicant must submit completed medical examination forms from an examination conducted by an approved panel physician, which will include a record of receiving required vaccinations.

In addition, once the National Visa Center determines that all the required documents have been filed, the visa applicant will undergo an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate.

Hiring an immigration attorney to assist in a family-based immigration visa

As noted above, the family preference visa process can be very complicated, given the number of requirements and documents that must be submitted to USCIS, and given the differing requirements of what type of visa is being sought. In addition, the process can become more complicated if, during the pendency of a family-based visa application, the U.S. sponsor adjusts his status from an LPR to a U.S. citizen by becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Unless U.S. sponsors and visa applicants are prepared to educate themselves on the detailed requirements of obtaining a family preference visa in Rhode Island. Their best option may be to hire a qualified immigration attorney, who can do all the necessary work to make sure that the process runs smoothly and that the legal requirements are met without undue delay or confusion.

If you or someone you know is interested in obtaining a family-based immigration visa, attorney George Barsom of the Barsom Law Group can help. Furthermore, because obtaining visas are a matter of federal law, rather than state law, he can handle family preference immigration applications for citizens living in any state, not merely the State of Rhode Island or Massachusetts.

The Barsom Law Group can give you and your family members peace of mind in undertaking this difficult and potentially frustrating and time-consuming task. Once hired, the Barsom Law Group in Rhode Island will take over the family preference immigration application process from beginning to end, keeping clients informed, and taking the stress out of the process. If you need assistance obtaining a family-based immigration visa for your relative or relatives, contact the Barsom Law Group.



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