Immigration laws can unfortunately act as a roadblock to reuniting with your family in the U.S. However, there are many avenues for recourse within the U.S. immigration system, and the Shirazi Law Group can help ensure that your petitions are successful. One method for a foreign national to legally immigrate to the United States is to obtain the sponsorship of a family member who is either a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. There are a number of preference categories (subject to quotas) which determine the probability that your immigration application will be accepted – immediate relatives (parents, spouse, and unmarried children under 21) have the highest preference, whereas brothers and sisters have a lower preference. Other immigration options include temporary (non-immigrant) spouse/child (K-3/4) visas and fiancé (e) (K-1) visas.
PROCEDURE TO APPLY FOR FAMILY-BASED IMMIGRATION
In order to sponsor a family member’s immigration application, you must submit a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, and demonstrate the following:
- Your sponsor is a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the U.S.
- Your sponsor earns at least 125% above the poverty level set by the US government.
- You are related to your sponsor.
Unlimited: Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens constitute a special category that is not subject to quotas. Immediate relatives include the sponsor’s parents, spouse, and unmarried children below the age of 21 years.
- First Preference: Unmarried adult (above the age of 21 years) sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
- Second Preference: Spouses of lawful permanent residents and their unmarried sons and daughters of any age.
- Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
- Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens.
Under the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act (LIFE Act) and its amendments, the K visa allows the spouse and unmarried children (below the age of 21 years) of a U.S. citizen to enter, live and work in the U.S. as non-immigrants until they receive lawful permanent resident status. The spouse receives a K-3 visa and the children receive a K-4 visas.
You can receive a K-3 (Spouse) visa if:
- You have married a U.S. citizen.
- Your U.S. citizen spouse has filed Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) with USCIS for you.
- You want to enter the U.S. to wait for the approval of the petition to become a lawful permanent resident.
- You have forwarded an approved Form I-129F (Petition for Alien Fiancé) to the U.S. Consulate (which issues immigrant visas) in the country where you were married. If you were married in the U.S., the approved petition has to be forwarded to a consulate which has jurisdiction over the area where you reside.
You can receive a K-4 (Child) visa if:
- You are unmarried and under the age of 21 years.
- You are the child of a foreign national who is eligible for a K-3 visa.
The advantage to obtaining a K-3/K-4 non-immigrant visa is that you are allowed to work in the U.S. while waiting for to adjust your status to lawful permanent resident. However, to do this you must have employment authorization.
Note: You will not need to apply for a work permit after you have become a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. because you will receive a permanent resident card which allows you to permanently live and work in the U.S. Your valid K-3/K-4 non-immigrant visa allows you to travel outside of and return to the U.S., even if you are still waiting for your permanent resident status.
U.S. immigration law allows two methods for U.S. citizens to bring spouses to the U.S.: the K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa and the Foreign National-Spouse Immigrant Visa. The K-1 Visa is used in situations where the couple is engaged and will marry in the U.S. The Foreign National-Spouse Visa, however, is a proven path toward lawful permanent residency for your spouse.
If the marriage takes place abroad, an I-130 petition should be filed after the marriage. This petition should be generally be filed with USCIS in the U.S. There are some USCIS offices overseas that will accept spousal visas in certain circumstances U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.