BRINGING FAMILIES TOGETHER IN THE UNITED STATES
The most important goal of Immigration Law is family reunification. The understanding of this crucial concept in Immigration Law will ensure proper and timely processing with the Department of State and Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly INS). Having assisted thousands of immigrants reunite with their families here in the United States, we would like to share some important aspects and observations regarding family-sponsored immigration.
Generally, there are two types of intending immigrants, immediate relatives and preference immigrants. Immediate relatives include spouses of U.S. citizens, minor children (under 21) of U.S. citizens, parents of U.S. citizens provided that the petitioner is 21 years or older, under certain conditions spouses of deceased U.S. citizens who were married at least two years at the time their citizen spouse’s death, child born after the issuance of the immigrant visa but before it is used to apply for admission to the United States, and a child born to a lawful permanent resident during a temporary visit abroad. The immediate relatives are not subject to the quotas and sometime long waits but there are no derivative beneficiaries.
The preference immigrants are divided into four categories. The first preference includes unmarried sons and daughters (over 21 years of age) of U.S. citizens. The second preference is divided into two subcategories; spouses or children of lawful permanent residents and unmarried sons or unmarried daughters of aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residents. The third preference covers married or daughters of citizens of United States. The fourth preference encompasses brothers and sisters of United States citizens. These immigrants are subject to quotas and must wait for the visa to “become current” before receiving their visa. The wait for preference immigrants varies by category and country of chargeability and can be reviewed on the State Departments visa bulletin. However, the spouse and or children of the principal beneficiary are afforded the same status and can accompany or follow to join the principal as soon as the visa is current.
Of course many other important immigration laws must be considered in conjunction with the family sponsored immigration laws. They include unlawful presence, 3 and 10 year bars, 245(i), adoptions, bona fide marriage exemptions, battered spouses, waivers of inadmissibility, permission to reapply after deportation, motions to reopen, rules of chargeability, the Child Status Protection Act, waivers for fraud at entry, and affidavit of support.