Family Preference Visas in Birmingham
It is difficult to obtain an immigration visa to the United States. However, citizens and people who are already Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs, or Green Card holders) can sponsor their family members to join them here permanently. Unfortunately, the process can be complex, and not all family members are eligible for a family preference permit.
It is helpful to work with knowledgeable legal representation if you are trying to obtain Family Preference visas in Birmingham. An experienced family immigration lawyer could explain the law, help you file your petition, and assist your family member as they complete the application process.
Eligibility for a Family Preference Visa
The law limits the number of visas in the Family Preference category that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) can issue to foreign nationals every year. For this reason, the process could take several years from initial filing to issuing a visa. The categories of Family Preference visas are designated F-1 to F-4. The numbers reflect the order of preference.
United States citizens can use the faster Immediate Family category to sponsor their spouse, parents, and young unmarried children. However, citizens must use the Family Preference category to sponsor a visa for their siblings and children who are married or over 21. Unmarried children over 21 can apply for an F-1 visa, married children can apply for an F-3 visa, and the citizen’s adult siblings can apply for an F-4 visa.
A Green Card holder is entitled to bring a spouse and unmarried children to the United States. The spouse and unmarried children under 21 are eligible for an F2-A visa, and unmarried children over 21 are eligible for an F2-B visa. A Birmingham attorney could help an LPR determine the class of visa their family members require and help them understand the varying preference categories.
Navigating the Application Process
When applying for a family preference visa, the sponsoring family member files Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative with USCIS. If the family member is currently in the United States, they could file their Form I-145, Application to Adjust Status or Register Permanent Residence, at the same time the sponsor submits the Petition or any time thereafter. If the family member is outside the U.S., they must wait for USCIS to approve the Petition and their priority date (see below) to become current before filing their application.
When applying for a family preference permit, a Green Card holder also must submit an Affidavit of Support. This document guarantees that they will meet the applicant’s needs for food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and other necessities. Finally, a permanent resident must prove that their income allows them to support the applicant. If the sponsor’s income is insufficient, a co-sponsor could also submit an Affidavit.
If the Petition, Application, and financial documents are in order, the applicant must attend an interview at a USCIS office either in the U.S. or their country of residence. They must bring documents supporting their application to the interview. A detail-oriented lawyer in Birmingham could help the applicant compile the necessary documents and prepare for the interview process.
Estimating Timeframes for Family Preference Visas
The date that USCIS receives a sponsor’s Form I-130 is significant—it is the application’s priority date. Applications are processed on a first-come, first-served. A family preference visa applicant can find this priority date on the letter that approves their petition.
If the applicant is outside the U.S., they must wait for their priority date to become current before submitting their Form I-145 and initiating their application. In addition, USCIS considers an applicant’s visa category and country. Only a limited number of applications are accepted yearly from specified countries. However, if a sponsor becomes a citizen while the family member’s application is pending, the application could be moved to the Immediate family category, which has no limits.
The USCIS Visa Bulletin keeps potential applicants informed of their place in line. The charts can be complicated to understand, but an experienced Birmingham attorney could help a sponsor and applicant track the progress of their application and estimate when they might receive their Family Preference visa.
Discuss Family Preference Visas in Birmingham with Our Attorneys
The immigration system in this country is challenging to navigate without professional help. If you are hoping to secure a family preference visa, you might run into long wait times, complications and procedural roadblocks that make your immigration goals more challenging. Thankfully, our dedicated legal team understands your situation and could help with Family Preference visas in Birmingham. Contact our office today to schedule your initial consultation.