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4 Types Of Family-Based Immigration & What You Need To Know

Apr 14, 2023 | Immigration

Family is the most important thing to most of us – your family members are likely everything to do, and all the dreams you want to achieve mean nothing if you’re not able to share them with those you love. The idea of living in a separate country being unable to see each other often or at all may seem too much to bear. Unfortunately, because immigration is so complex, you may be able to attain lawful status before your other family members do; however, this gives you the unique opportunity to petition for them to join you in the U.S. or for them to stay in the U.S. more permanently. 

At The Santos Law Offices, P.A., we frequently help people navigate the maze of family-based immigration. We can explain all of the options available to you! Many times, people don’t realize what they can do for their family members when it comes to petitions or the resources that are available to them, but knowledge is power. Here are 4 types of family-based immigration and what you need to know about each! 

Fiance Visa (K-1 Visa)

How They Work

A fiance visa, or K-1 visa, allows your bethrothed to enter the U.S. and get married to you here! You will file form I-129F and supporting documentation with USCIS, which is to prove that the relationship is valid. Then your fiance will have to file the State Department’s online DS-160 form and supporting documentation (which may include you filing an Affadavit of Support, Form I-134). Your fiance will have to undergo an interview and be approved. 

Once the K-1 visa is granted, they have six months from the initial filing date to travel to the U.S.; after that, you both have 90 days to make the marriage official! The K-1 visa will expire after 90 days, and cannot be renewed, but you can apply for a marriage-based green card so your spouse can stay with you in the country. Currently, K-1 visa applications take about a year and a half to process; they are one of the most common types of family-based immigration. 

Eligibility Requirements 

  • You must be a U.S. citizen, not just a green card holder
  • You must both be unmarried
  • You must have met in person at least once within two years of applying, unless there are exceptions (such as hardship, cultural customs, etc.) 
  • You must have a real relationship
  • You must intend to get married within 90 days of your fiance’s arrival in the U.S. 
  • You must have an income that is at least 100% above the poverty line 

Common Mistakes/Reasons For Denial

Many people are rejected for a K-1 visa simply because they make mistakes when filling out the paperwork – they don’t do it correctly, accidentally include inaccurate information, or fail to complete the whole thing. If you don’t show convincing evidence of a real relationship, or know what convincing evidence looks like to the USCIS, that can be another red flag. If you haven’t booked a venue or made other wedding-related plans yet, the USCIS may not believe you intend to marry in 90 days, and may reject you for that reason. 

Spouse Visa (CR1 or IR1 Visa)

How They Work

Spouse visas (also known as marriage-based green cards) can be granted to spouses of U.S. citizens or green card holders who are living abroad and who wish to enter, live in, and work in the country. There are two types of spouse visas: CR1 and IR1. 

CR1 visas are designed for couples who have been married for less than 2 yeras. Two years after being granted a CR1 and arriving in the U.S., couples must apply to remove conditions from this type of green card and receive a 10-year permanent resident green card. 

IR1 are designed for couples who have been married for more than two years, and they are good for 10 years before renewal is needed. 

To obtain either of these spouse visas, you will need to supply extensive documentation and may need to fill out an Affadavit of Support. 

Eligibility Requirements 

  • You need to be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident
  • You will need to supply evidence that the marriage is legitimate (more than merely a marriage certificate – joint ownership of property, joint finances, proof of time spent together, etc.) 
  • The sponsored spouse will need to undergo a medical examination; you both may have to attend an interview
  • You need to have an income that is 125% above the poverty line 
  • You must have a U.S. address or provide proof of planning to return to the U.S. with your spouse

Common Mistakes/Reasons For Denial

If you don’t provide enough proof that the marriage is legitimate, or if there are errors with your paperwork, just like with a K-1, it is likely that your application will be denied. 

Parent Petition (IR-5 Visa, Form I-130)

How They Work

A successful parents petition will give your mother and father (or either parent) the right to live and work in the United States as lawful permanent residents! You will file Form I-130 and provide supporting documentation, which will include evidence of your citizenship, evidence such as your birth certificate that they are your parents, and more. Depending on whether or not your parent already resides in the U.S. or is applying from outside the country, they will have to fill out certain forms as well. They may have to attend an interview and biometrics appointment. Once their IR-5 visa is granted, they can enter the country or be given authorization to work in the country! 

Eligibility Requirements 

  • You must be a U.S. citizen to sponsor your parents
  • You must live in the U.S. and have a U.S. address
  • You must be at least 21 years of age
  • You must provide proof of parentage 
  • You must have an income that is at least 125% above the poverty line
  • Stepparents, adoptive parents, and unmarried dads need to meet additional requirements 

Common Mistakes/Reasons For Denial

Many IR-5 visas are denied for the same reason K-1 visas are denied; incomplete/inaccurate paperwork or not enough/not the right kind of proof of relationship. However, if your parents had previously overstayed their visas, have any sort of criminal spots on their record, they may be ineligible for a certain number of years. If you do not have enough financial means to support them as required, that could also be a reason for rejection for this type of family-based immigration.

Sibling Petition (F-4 Immigrant Visa)

How They Work

Sibling petitions work much in the same way that the parent visas do, with the same outcome if granted – that your siblings will be able to enter, live in, and work in the U.S.! It’s important to note that even if your parents are granted a visa, you cannot sponsor your siblings on the same petition. Siblings will need their own petition, either by you the citizen sponsor or by your parents when they become green card holders. 

Eligibility Requirements

The eligibility requirements for a sibling visa are the same for that of a parent visa. 

Common Mistakes/Reasons For Denial

Unlike some of the other family-based petitions, the F-4 visa has a cap of 65,000 that are issued each year. Opportunities are limited. Other than that, the same common reasons for denial as the others mentioned apply! 

Why You Need An Immigration Lawyer’s Help 
Any one of these family-based immigration processes can take several months or several years, and there is so much you need to make sure you have right in order to increase the chances of acceptance and achieve your family’s goals! Our South Florida family petition lawyers are bilingual and have extensive experience with all of these forms and cases; our lead attorney is herself a Cuban immigrant who came to the U.S. with her parents. Our firm knows exactly what the immigration officials expect, and we will handle everything for you so you can focus on loving your family. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your next steps!

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