This category is where yearly quotas kick in. For U.S. citizens, the group includes brothers and sisters and sons and daughters older than 21. LPRs are limited to sponsoring spouses and unmarried sons and daughters.
A maximum of 480,000 visas in all categories is allowed per year. The quota for family preference visas is determined by subtracting the number of immediate relative applications from 480,000. Though immediate relative applications total nearly 70 percent of all visas available, the law requires that at least 226,000 visas be allotted by family preference; thus total visas often exceed 480,000.
The Sponsorship Process
The family member on U.S. soil, whether citizen or Green Card holder, must begin the process by filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, along with supporting documentation and evidence. The application will be forwarded by the USCIS to the National Visa Center (NVC). When a visa becomes available, the NVC will notify the U.S. consulate nearest to your relative. The consulate will advise your relative of how the process will work from that point on.
Eligibility for Family Visas
Even though a visa may be available, Section 212 of the INA places barriers to admission into the United States based on a variety of factors. These factors include:
- Health – Having a communicable disease or lacking required vaccinations; physical or mental disorders; or drug abuse.
- Criminal Grounds – Committing a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT); conviction of two or more crimes; controlled substance sales or trafficking; human trafficking; prostitution; or money laundering.
- Present in the U.S. without Permission – Anyone who has previously, or currently, resided in the United States and who has entered without inspection (EWI), which generally means not having gone through a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspection
- Fraud and/or Misrepresentation on the Application – Willful fraud or misrepresentation of a material fact
Other categories apply as well. For some categories, waivers may be available. For others, there may be time limits before the petitioner can reapply (some can be barred for life). If your relative runs into an inadmissibility stumbling block, you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney as soon as possible.
Put An Experienced Legal Team On Your Side
It may seem like a simple matter to file the initial I-130 form to begin the process of obtaining a visa for your relative, but hurdles and stumbling blocks will almost invariably arrive. When the USCIS receives your petition, it may have questions and seek clarification or further evidence to prove your family relationship. This can stretch out the processing period, which may already be considerable depending on the quota category into which you fall.
Don’t risk your chances at successfully securing a visa for your family member by attempting to navigate this process on your own. Call The Torres Law Firm today to work with a legal team that has extensive experience with family immigration law. Our attorneys can walk you through the process step by step, answer all of your questions, and do everything they can to help you pursue the best possible outcome for your situation. Reach out today to schedule your own case consultation.