The United States tightly controls all aspects of immigration from outside the country. Despite many of the horror stories about family separation, the immigration system was initially devised to help reunite immigrant families seeking a better life. Despite the challenges that come with the immigration system, family-based immigration remains possible with the assistance of a dedicated immigration attorney.
There is more than one way for families to reunite under the American immigration system. These options vary depending on whether the person seeking to enter the country is an immediate relative of a citizen or not. A Huntsville family immigration lawyer can help you understand how the two different approaches to family-based immigration could impact you.
Types of Family-Based Immigration
There are two forms of family-based immigration under U.S. law: immediate relative immigration and the family preference system. The difference between these two approaches to family immigration is important, as immediate relatives do not have to wait as long for visa eligibility compared to the family preference system. If you have questions on which of these systems might apply to your loved ones, you can discuss the matter with an experienced family immigration attorney from the Huntsville area.
The immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen have a much easier path to immigrate compared to other family members. Federal law strictly defines who qualifies as an immediate relative. The most common example is a spouse. A citizen’s parents are also considered immediate relatives, but only if the citizen applying is below the age of 22. Finally, any unmarried children of the applying citizen can also qualify so long as they are under the age of 22 as well.
The primary benefit of immediate relative status is that there is no quota on how many people can enter the United States through this method. The same is not true for the family preference system. Additionally, acts that would disqualify a person under the family preference system, like accepting a job without permission from the government, do not deem immediate relatives inadmissible.
Family Preference System
The family preference system applies to all family members that do not qualify as an immediate relative of a US citizen. For example, spouses of lawful permanent residents or brothers and sisters of US citizens.There is a hard limit on the number of individuals that can enter through this system each year, meaning that some relatives could wait 15 to20 years before obtaining a visa. The wait a person faces will depend in part on the country they are immigrating from. Other factors include their specific relationship with a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.
Conditional Permanent Residence
There are some additional conditions that apply to spouses entering the country as an immediate relative. Any spouse that marries a U.S. citizen less than two years prior to the acceptance of their green card application faces conditional permanent residence immediately after they are married. While conditional permanent residence carries the same benefits as a legal permanent residence, the spouse must apply for permanent status by the two-year anniversary of the granting of their temporary residence. This requirement is in place to prevent short-term marriages for the sake of a green card.
Learn More by Contacting a Huntsville Family Immigration Attorney
Family immigration can be a long and frustrating process. However, experienced legal counsel could help ensure you do not face unnecessary delays or other setbacks.
A Huntsville family immigration lawyer could represent your loved one’s best chance of immigrating to the United States. Schedule an initial consultation to learn more.