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Navigating the Family-Based Immigration Process: Your Guide to Success

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Family-based immigration is among the most common pathways for foreign-born individuals to immigrate to the United States. It is a lengthy and complex process that requires extensive documentation and may often lead to applicants making mistakes that could lead to delays or even denials. The attorneys at the Espinoza Law Group go over how family-based immigration petitions work and explain how an attorney can help you maximize your chances of success.

What Are the First Steps to Begin a Family-Based Immigration Application?

When you are preparing to petition for a loved one to join you as a resident of the United States, there are several steps you should take well before any forms are filled out and submitted. For starters, it is crucial to determine your eligibility before applying for a family-based visa or green card.

The eligibility criteria typically include being the spouse, child, sibling, or parent of a U.S. citizen or being the spouse or unmarried child of a lawful permanent resident (LPR). Remember – only U.S. citizens can petition for their parents, siblings, and other relatives. Those with a permanent resident status are limited to petitioning for their spouses and children.

Once you have determined your eligibility, you need to fill out the necessary forms required for family-based immigration applications. These forms may include:

  • – Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
  • – Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
  • – Form I-864, Affidavit of Support

Make sure to read and follow the instructions provided with each form carefully, as omitting information or making simple mistakes (such as forgetting to sign and date each form) can cause delays.

What Kind of Documents Do I Need to Submit With My Application?

In addition to completing the forms, you will need to gather relevant documentation to support your application. The USCIS has a complete list of documents that are required for family-based green card applications. The required documents usually include:

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Divorce decrees
  • Adoption decrees
  • Medical records
  • Proof of financial ability

Remember, if your supporting documents are in a language other than English, you will also need to submit certified translations of each document along with a copy of the originals. USCIS may sometimes require you to provide the original documents, which will be returned to you after a decision is made on your application. You will also need to pay any applicable processing fees before mailing your application; otherwise, it will be rejected.

What Happens After I Submit My Application?

Once you have completed all the required forms, paid the processing fees, and gathered the necessary documentation, you can submit your application to the USCIS. If your loved one is still residing abroad, the petition will be handled by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country.

After submitting your application, your family member may be required to attend an interview and biometric appointment. If your loved one is abroad, the interview will be conducted by a consular officer, who will assess your eligibility and answer any questions you may have. If your family member is in the United States, they will be interviewed by a USCIS officer. The waiting time for a decision may vary depending on the specifics of your case and the volume of applications being processed.

If all goes well and your petition is approved, your loved one will be allowed to travel to the United States and will receive their permanent resident card shortly after being admitted. If your loved one is already in the United States, they will be allowed to adjust their status to permanent resident and will also receive their green card in the mail.

What Do I Do If I Need Assistance?

Navigating the entire process of petitioning for a loved one to join you as a U.S. resident is not for everyone. Naturally, many petitioners have questions or need assistance filling out forms and preparing their applications. At the Espinoza Law Group, our team of knowledgeable immigration attorneys can assist you with every aspect of your case. Contact us at 213-667-0701 to learn more.

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