Regilucia Costa Smith, PLLC.

Immigration & Nationality Law

“We are a nation of immigrants. We are the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the ones who wanted a better life, the driven ones, the ones who woke up at night hearing that voice telling them that life in that place called America could be better.”            

Mitt Romney

Family Based

Immediate relatives do not face waiting times for visa availability. Immediate relatives in the United States may qualify to file Form I-485 to adjust status. Preference relatives often face very long waiting times, due to strict annual limits on permanent immigration benefits. The length of the wait depend on upon which family preference category is appropriate, as well as the country of origin.

Depending on the type of family relationship, foreign nationals can immigrate to the U.S. based on a petition filed by a family member. But there is a major difference in processing, depending on the type of relationship.

  • Immediate relatives: Under the immigration laws, an “immediate relative” is the parent, spouse, or child (unmarried and under the age of 21) of a U.S. citizen. Immediate relatives are at a distinct advantage over others as there is no visa wait list to immigrate. In other words, if the U.S. citizen files a petition for a foreign national parent, spouse or child, the foreign national will be eligible to receive a visa without being subject to a visa backlog (see below – “family preferences”). There are a few caveats, however. First, family immigration requires that the petitioner files an Affidavit of Support to prevent the sponsored family member from needing government assistance and to maintain the family member at a level of living above the poverty level. Second, cases involving marriage to a U.S. citizen are scrutinized for fraud. Only bona fide, good faith marriages will be approved. Third, if the marriage is less than two years old at the time of approval of the visa, the foreign national will be granted two-year conditional residence.

  • Family preferences: In addition to immediate relatives, the law provides immigrant visas for other family members. But Congress has placed a numerical limitation on visas for these other family members, so they are subject to a visa backlog. Note, the caveats listed above apply to family preferences too. Below are the other family members who can qualify for an immigrant visa and the approximate wait time for a visa. Bear in mind that a foreign national has no right to come to remain in the U.S. during the prolonged wait for a visa.

                                                     First preference — Adult, unmarried son or daughter of a U.S. citizen: 6-year backlog

                                                     Second preference (A) — Spouse or child of lawful permanent resident: 5-year backlog
                                                     Second preference (B) — Adult son or daughter (unmarried) of LPR: 8-year backlog
                                                     Third preference — Adult, married son or daughter of U.S. citizen: 9-year backlog
                                                     Fourth preference — Sibling of a U.S. citizen: 10- to 15-year backlog

The sponsoring relative must file a petition (Form I-130) on behalf of the qualifying foreign national relative. If the relative is outside the U.S., the immigrant visa case will proceed via consular processing.

  • Immediate relatives require an I-130 filing for each sponsored family member.
  • Sufficient documentation of the qualifying family relationship must be provided.
  • Family-based cases generally require an affidavit of support.

How We Can Help You

Reggie Law Firm can assist in preparation for and representation at interviews at USCIS offices or U.S. consulates. We will also advise with regard to legal issues and may assist in all types of family-based immigration cases at local USCIS offices, service centers, and U.S. consulates abroad.