A citizen of United States marrying foreign-born persons and petitioning for them to obtain permanent residence in the U.S is very common. Per immigration laws, spouses of U.S. citizens are considered “immediate relatives” and therefore are exempt from all numerical quota limitations. Getting a green card through marriage to a US citizen is considered the fastest way to getting a green card.
Battered spouses and children of US citizens or lawful permanent residents get special benefits under US immigration laws. A US citizen can also get a temporary visa for a fiancée and get married once he/she arrives in the US.
Marriage in the US:
To get a green card through marriage, the US citizen has to submit a visa petition (Form I-130). The following have to be attached to the visa petition:
- Forms G-325 (Biographical forms) for both the husband and wife.
- Proof that the petitioner is a citizen (US Passport, a Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship or a certified copy of the citizen’s birth certificate)
- Certified copy of the marriage certificate
- Certified copies of the documents if previous marriages were terminated including final divorce decrees, and certificates of annulment or death.
The foreign-born spouse has to submit an application for adjustment of status (Form I-485). On receiving and reviewing your application, the USCIS will schedule an interview within a few months.
Marriage outside the US:
Earlier, the foreign-born spouse had to remain in his/her country until he/she got a green card. However things changed post August 14, 2001 as temporary K-3 and K-4 visas became available and this permitted the spouse and children of US citizens to get temporary visas to come to the US and process the paperwork in the US.
The US citizen spouse has to submit a visa petition to either the USCIS office which has jurisdiction over his residence or directly to the US Embassy or Consulate in the country where the foreign-born spouse resides. Once the visa petition is approved, the foreign-born spouse will receive a package from the National Visa Center (NVC). The package will detail the foreign-born spouse of the documents that has to be presented at the immigrant visa interview abroad (passport, police clearances, medical examination results, etc.). The package will also have certain documents requesting biographic data that has to be completed, signed and forwarded to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.
Normally, the foreign-born spouse will be interviewed and issued an immigrant visa within three to six months. The State Department charges a fee to issue an immigrant visa.
The conditional resident card is valid for two years. Both spouses must submit a joint petition (Form I-751) to remove the two-year condition within the 90-day period before the end of the two year period.
If the marriage was terminated due to divorce, death of the citizen spouse or spousal abuse, the foreign-born spouse may apply for a waiver of the joint petition requirement at any time before the end of the two-year period. Once approved, a permanent resident card with ten year validity will be issued.
One of the many advantages of being a US citizen is that you can sponsor your loved ones for a green card to come and live with you in the US. As a US citizen, you may petition your spouse, parents and children for the green card status. Whereas, if you a legal permanent resident (green card holder), you will be able to sponsor only your spouse and unmarried children.
Green Card For Child Application Process
The first step is the “Immigrant Petition” that will establish a qualifying relationship between you, the sponsor and your child abroad followed by the green card application. If your child is in the US, you can file the immigrant petition and green card for child application at the same time. But, if you are a lawful permanent resident, your child must wait for the immigrant petition to be approved before they can file the the green card application.
While sponsoring a green card for child, the first step is to submit Form I-130, the immigrant petition. If your child lives outside the US, the application for an immigrant visa has to be filed at a US consulate which has jurisdiction over your child’s place of residence.
If your child/children live in the US, then you file form I-485 through which you can adjust status. If your child lives in the US and is both unmarried and under the age of 21, then you can submit Form I-130 and Form I-485 at the same time. This is generally the fastest way to apply for a green card. As a legal permanent resident, if your child is married or over 21 or lives outside the US, then you must wait for the Form I-130 to be approved before moving to the next step in the process.
If you are a US citizen, you can also sponsor your married child for a green card. Married sons and daughters of US citizens fall in the third-preference category which means that they must wait for a visa number to become available before they can apply for a visa. In simple terms, married sons and daughters must wait longer than unmarried sons and daughters to apply for a green card. However, note that legal permanent residents may not sponsor their married sons and daughters for a green card.
As a US citizen parent, you can sponsor your unmarried children below the age of 21 as “immediate relatives”. They can directly apply for a green card without having to wait for a priority date to become current. Though, as a US citizen, you can sponsor your children who are married or over the age of 21, these children will not qualify as immediate relatives. These applicants will need to wait for their priority date to be current before they are eligible to apply for a green card.
A monthly visa bulletin published by the Department of State tells applicants when their priority date is current. Before applying for a green card, applicants must wait for their priority date to become current.
It is important to remember that if you are bringing a relative to live permanently in the US, you must accept legal responsibility for financially supporting this family member. You accept this responsibility and become your relative’s sponsor by completing and signing a document called an affidavit of support. This legally enforceable responsibility lasts until your relative becomes a US citizen or can be credited with 40 quarters of work (usually 10 years.)
The lawful status of persons immigrating to the US varies according to the category through which they entered the US. You can use the non-immigrant visa if your stay in the US is temporary and you can come through an immigrant visa if your intention is for a permanent stay.
All immigrants have two options – become permanent residents (Green Card holders) or become citizens. Though both these statuses give you the right to live and work legally in the United States, certain advantages are conferred only to the US citizens. But if you want to apply for citizenship, you have to be a green card holder. In addition to this, there are other requirements you need to satisfy, should you want to apply for citizenship.
As far as green card is concerned, there are many ways to get one. One is through marriage. Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) has to be filed by a US citizen or US lawful permanent resident (LPR) to establish the relation to his/her relatives who want to come to the US. If you are a US citizen and your spouse is already in the US, your spouse can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status with the USCIS at the same time as you file the petition for Alien Relative.
Another way to get a green card is through the Diversity Visa lottery program that is conducted annually. You can also get one through employment. Immigrants under the Refugee or Asylee status can also apply for a green card.
If you become a US citizen, you have the right to hold federal jobs and the right to vote. You are free to travel wherever and for however long you want to. You will be protected even when you are traveling overseas. The State Department will make sure you travel home safely and will assist you through the US consulates abroad. Your spouse, children and other children you adopt can also become US citizens through your status. Though you will be required to file certain applications to document their status, the process will be less difficult.
The Citizenship Application Process:
Once you satisfy all the eligibility requirements that is needed to apply for citizenship, you can file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization with the USCIS. You will have to mail the completed US citizenship application along with your photographs, fees and supporting documents to the USCIS address mentioned in the instructions that come along with the citizenship form.
Once the USCIS receives your form, they will send you an appointment letter for fingerprinting. After your fingerprints are taken, you will have to wait for a letter of appointment from the USCIS for your interview. They will send a letter (Notice of Action) that will have the date, time and location of the interview.
Your knowledge of basic English Language and history of the US government (which is another requirement in the citizenship process) will be tested. If you prove your ability in the tests, you will be called to take the Oath and indeed, receive your Certificate of Naturalization. If you do not attend the Oath Ceremony, you should return the Form N-445, ‘Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony’ to the designated local Application Service Center (ASC). You should also attach a letter that would explain why you were not able to make it to the original ceremony. Then the USCIS will reschedule the date for your Oath Ceremony and will send new Form N-445 (Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony) that would have details of the ceremony.
Permanent residents have the authorization to live and work permanently in the United States. United States allows US citizens and permanent residents to help their immediate relatives to immigrate to United States on a permanent basis. Family based immigration is an immigrant visa classification which allows a foreign individual to become a permanent resident through a family member in the United States who is either a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident.
If you are a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident, you may then petition for your immediate relatives for a green card. Obtaining a Green Card for your family is a two step process. The first step is filing the Family Immigration Petition. This is filed to establish a qualifying relationship between yourself and your immediate relative. The second step involves applying for a green card. If the family member is inside the United States, then the applicant may qualify to adjust status to permanent resident without returning to their home country. Or if the family member is outside the United States, then the applicant must file the petition at the United States consulate or through an US Embassy that has jurisdiction over their foreign place of residence.
Green Card for Your Father:
Although the immigration law has given the privilege to both US citizens and lawful permanent residents to petition for their family members, only US citizens are allowed to petition for their parents. If you are looking out to obtain green card for your father, then you need to satisfy the following requirements.
1. To be eligible to petition for your father:
- you must be a US citizen
- you must be at least 21 years of age.
2. Your father must fall into one of these categories.
- Must be your natural father
- if step father, then he must have married your mother before you turned 18
- if adopted father, then you must have been adopted before you turned 16.
3. You must then file Form I 130 to petition your father. This form is used to request an immigrant visa for your father. You need to file your petition with USCIS along with supporting documents such as naturalization certificate or a US. passport. Submit your petition to the appropriate USCIS address.
4. When you send your petition to USCIS you must ensure you include the required supporting documents. The list of the supporting documents is given below.
- Birth Certificate showing he is your natural father
- Provide name change proof if your father has changed his name
- Natural parent’s marriage certificate. (If stepfather, provide marriage certificate to your biological mother)
- If you were adopted, then adoption decree before you turned 16 and a statement which mentions the places and time you lived with your adoptive parents
5. Once the I 130 petition to obtain a green card for your father has been approved, your father can apply for a green card. If your father is outside US he has to apply at a US consulate. If he is inside US, he should apply for adjustment of states with USCIS.
Most people who wish to help their fiance(e) immigrate to US have a doubt on what form to file, whether K1 visa or Form I 130. It depends on the the length of the relationship, the supporting evidence, the number of times the sponsor or the petitioner has physically met their fiance(e), are few of the considerations to file the appropriate form.
Only the citizens of the US may file a K1 visa for a fiance(e). If you are a legal permanent resident you may then have to file Form I 130 to petition your spouse. A K1 visa is issued to the fiance(e) of a United States citizen to enter the US and marry the United Citizen within 90 days after the entry of the fiance(e) into US. A K3 visa is used by a US citizen to bring his or her spouse to the US. Form I 130 is used by a US Citizen or a legal permanent resident to petition his or her spouse for a green card.
The average waiting time for K1 visa is approximately 7-9 months, K-3 petitions take approximately 8-10 months and Form I 130 petitions take approximately 8-12 months to be processed.
What Form Must I File?
If you are a US Citizen and you wish to bring your fiance(e) to US to get married you must file K1 visa application. On approval of the petition by the US Citizen, the fiance(e) may travel to United States for a period of 90 days. A K-1 visa requires a fiance(e) to marry his or her US citizen sponsor within 90 days of entry into the United States. The fiance(e) may then obtain work permit to work in the United States. It is mandatory that the US Citizen and the fiance(e) must be married within the 90 days period , so that the fiance(e) will be eligible to apply to adjust status to a lawful permanent resident.
If you are a US Citizen and you wish to bring your spouse to US then you must file K3 visa application. You can apply for a K-3 visa for your spouse only after you have filed the I-130 petition. Your spouse can enter the US on a K3 visa while the I-130 is pending and must apply to adjust status to a permanent resident with the USCIS upon approval of the petition.
Form I 130 is used by either by a US Citizen or a Legal Permanent Resident to petition their spouse to immigrate to United States. This process is a lengthy process when compared to that of K1 and other processes.
A K1 visa holder will not be able work or leave the country until they apply for adjustment of status. When they file for adjustment of status, applications for employment and travel will also have to be filed. After 90 days of filing the petition, the spouse may be able to travel and work.
A K-3 visa is a multiple-entry visa and the spouse may travel out of the country. The K 3 visa holder must apply for an EAD/work permit and it has to be filed along with the adjustment of status application.
Once the adjustment of status application is approved, the applicant acquires legal permanent resident status. They may then obtain employment immediately and also travel outside the country.
There are various ways to obtain a permanent resident card or green card. An applicant may obtain a green card through employment, through a family member, asylum and refugee status, through green card lottery program or through adoption by a permanent resident or a US citizen . Most people obtain permanent residency through a family member who is a US citizen or permanent resident of the United States. The United States allows the US citizens and permanent residents to help their family members to live and work permanently in the United States.
1. What is family based immigration?
Family-based immigration helps certain people to become U.S. permanent residents through family members who are either US citizens or US permanent residents. The US citizen or permanent resident who petitions for a family member is called a Sponsor and the person for whom the petition is filed is called the Beneficiary.
2. Who is eligible to sponsor a family member for a green card?
A petitioner or the sponsor must be at least 18 years old, and a US citizen or legal permanent resident to sponsor a family member for a green card. The sponsor generally must live in the United States or in a territory or possession of the US.
3. Whom can I sponsor if I am a U.S. citizen?
If you are a US citizen, you may petition for the following individuals.
- Married or unmarried children,
- Brother or sister (only if you are at least 21 years old),
- Parents (only if you are at least 21 years old)
4. Whom can I sponsor if I am a legal permanent resident?
If you are a lawful permanent resident, you may then petition for your spouse (husband or wife) and unmarried children.
5. How to process a petition for my spouse who is in the United States in a different status?
If you are a US citizen, then you must file Form I 130 to petition for your spouse. Your spouse may also apply to adjust the status to permanent resident at the same time as your petition. If you are a legal permanent resident, you then need to file the same Form I 130. The process differs a little where your spouse will have to wait for an immigrant visa to become available in the second preference category. Once the visa number becomes current, your spouse may apply for adjustment of status. During the application process, your spouse must maintain the non – immigrant status.
6. Can I file for my parents if I am permanent resident?
No, you are not allowed by the law to file for your parents. If you wish to petition for them, then you must be a US citizen.
7. I have petitioned for my husband. Can he join me in the United States when the petition is in process?
Yes, your husband may join you in the United States. You must petition him for a non-immigrant K-3 Visa while Form I 130 is pending. With this K3 visa, he may enter the United States. He is eligible to work while his permanent residency visa petition is pending.
Living in the US after marrying can be boring if the spouse or family is not with you. Such people by all means try to bring their family as well to the US . True enough, uniting with the family and living in the US is a pleasant experience. In order to bring the spouse to the US there are certain procedures and guidelines to be followed which are laid down by the US government.
Spouse refers to the legally wedded husband or wife. Spouse immigration is the process where a non U.S citizen living abroad marries a US citizen and later becomes a lawful permanent resident of the US. By applying for the non immigrant K3 visa the spouse can join the US citizen. The K3 is almost similar to the K1 visa but has its own limitations. Under the US immigration laws, the K3 visa should be applied for by the US citizen spouse at the USCIS office where the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative is pending. K3 visa holders can later on apply for adjustment of status with the Department of Homeland Security after the petition is approved.
Filing the K3 Petition:
One of the mistakes that some couples commit is marrying within the foreign country, and then following the K1 visa process to bring their spouse into the US. It is always a well known fact that K 1 visa is only for a fiance, whom he/she is going to marry and not a spouse. Background checking is conducted thoroughly by the Homeland Security and in cases where they find a record of the fiance already married to the U.S. citizen, the whole process will come to a standstill thereby leading to many complications. It is always fair enough to follow the rules and regulations to have a successful entry with a K3 visa .
As a first step, the US citizen sponsor should file a Petition for Alien Relative with form I-130 with the USCIS. After the notice of action is received, Form I-129F is filed which is the Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), for the foreign spouse and children of the spouse. After the USCIS approves the I-129F, the petition will be sent to the National Visa center which after processing will send it to the US embassy or the consulate. Instructions on how to proceed will be given at the US consulate or the embassy.
Required documents as evidence:
When applying for K3 visa there are certain supporting documents required as evidence and need to be shown at the time of the interview. The supporting documents include birth certificates, marriage certificates, evidence of financial support or Affidavit of support, evidence of relationship with the spouse, proof of income, bank account, medical examinations and vaccination requirements, etc . Certain acts like drug trafficking, overstaying on a previous visa and submitting falsified documents will make the applicant ineligible for a visa. The K3 visa generally holds good for the people who have married a US citizen abroad and who live aboard.
The INA (Immigration and Nationality Act) defines a K-1 visa as a non-immigrant visa classification for aliens coming to the United States to marry an American citizen and to set up residence in the United States.
Procedure and requirements for K-1 visa:
To be eligible to file for a K-1 visa the applicant should be :
- A US citizen.
- Must have met his fiancé in person within the previous two years or at least once.
- Should have a serious intention to marry within 90 days of the fiancé’s arrival in the United States.
- Should have a minimum income requirement to qualify for the Affidavit of Support so that the fiancé does not become a public charge.
To get started with the K-1 visa process the American citizen must file a petition on behalf of his alien fiancée with the Form I-129F, Petition for Relative or Fiancée, with the (USCIS) having jurisdiction over the place of the petitioner’s residence in the United States. Such petitions are not generally adjudicated abroad.
Once the petition is approved it will be forwarded by the USCIS to the American consular office where the alien fiancée will apply for his or her visa. This petition is valid only for a period of four months from the date of USCIS action and may be revalidated by the consular officer.
On receipt of an approved petition, the American consular officer will intimate the beneficiary and provide the necessary forms and instructions to apply for a K-1 visa.
As the fiancée visa applicant is an intending immigrant, he or she must meet most of the documentary requirements of an immigrant visa applicant.
The following documents are generally required in addition to the prescribed application forms.
- A valid passport
- Birth certificate
- Divorce or death certificate of any previous spouse
- Police certificate from all places lived since age 16
- Medical examination
- Evidence of support
- Evidence of valid relationship with the petitioner
- As soon as the processing of the case is completed the consular officer will interview the fiancée.
- If found eligible then a visa will be issued which will be valid for one entry during a period of six months.
K-1 Fiancé Visa and U.S. PORT OF ENTRY:
On entry into the US the marriage should take place within 90 days of admission. Following the marriage the spouse must apply to the USCIS for conditional permanent residence status. After two years the alien may apply to the USCIS for removal of the conditions.
K-1 Fiancé Visa Additional Details:
Unmarried minor children who are under 21 years of age of the K-1 visa holder will derive “K-2” non-immigrant visa status from the parent as long as they are mentioned in the petition. A separate petition though is not required if the children accompany or follow the alien fiancée within one year from the date of issuance of the K-1visa. From thereon a separate immigrant visa (I-130) petition is required.
Bringing your loved ones to the United States can be an exciting time. However, one must be prepared and patient, but eventually one can enjoy life together with his/her fiancé.
Family immigration is the process where you are sponsored by your family member for legal stay in the US. Green card gives you legal resident status in the US. With a green card, you can live and work in the US permanently. There are different ways through which you can get a green card.You can get one through employment or through the Diversity Visa lottery program. Family immigration is also possible where you can be sponsored by your US citizen or permanent resident family member for a green card.
In the family immigration process, as a legal permanent resident, you can sponsor your spouse and unmarried children. But to sponsor your parents or siblings, you need to be a US citizen. You can get a green card by being the immediate relative or as a family member in a preference category. But who is an immediate relative in the family immigration context? You are a immediate relative if you are the child (unmarried and under 21 years old) of a U.S. Citizen or the spouse (husband or wife) of a U.S. Citizen or the parent of a U.S. citizen (if the U.S. citizen is 21 years or older).
Whereas you will fall into the preference category in the family immigration context if you are the unmarried son or daughter (21 years or older) of a U.S. Citizen or a married son or daughter (any age) of a U.S. Citizen or a sibling (brother or sister) of a U.S. Citizen. So being an immediate relative or in the preference category will be an advantage in the family immigration process.
While sponsoring your family member, the US citizen or lawful permanent resident needs to file an Affidavit of Support. The US citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder) needs to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative with the concerned authority that is the USCIS. Once the petition is approved, the USCIS sends a notification to the US citizen or permanent resident who filed this petition and to the National Visa Center. There is a limit to the number of family-based immigrants in certain categories every year. So the petition will remain in the National Visa Center until an immigrant visa number is available. But here, the immediate relatives of the US citizen, namely parents, spouse and children have an advantage as they need not wait for this visa number as a number is made available as soon the visa petition is approved. The foreign relative will then be informed by the National Visa Center about the petition received and will also notify as soon as the visa number is available. So when the petition is approved, the foreign relative can apply for an immigrant visa at the US embassy or Consulate in their country which is called Consular processing. Whereas, if the foreign relative is already in the US, he/she can adjust non immigrant status to a permanent resident status as soon as the petition is approved by the USCIS. Here the foreign relative can complete the processing without even having to return to his home country.
You can also get a green card through special categories of the family immigration namely, being a battered child OR you obtained V non immigrant status OR born to a foreign diplomat in the United States to name a few.
Most of the people who have settled and are US citizens love to bring their family members who live in other countries to the US .It is not as easy as it sounds and is a very complex process. Green card is the residence or the work permit for an individual who lives in the US legally. Family based green card is green card for a persons who are relatives of the US citizens or green card holders . In other words, the US citizen or permanent resident can sponsor his/her relative who lives outside the US to get a green card.
Family immigration, as the name suggests, is immigration of the family of the US citizen or lawful permanent residents to the US. Family immigration allows immigration based on the person’s relationship to a US citizen or Legal Permanent Resident and this is an important aspect when sponsoring a family member. The reason being, the US citizens can sponsor parents, spouse, siblings and children whereas a green card holder can only sponsor his/her spouse and children who are unmarried and under the age of 21 years. So if you wish to bring your whole family and enjoy the time together with your family folks, then being a US citizen will make it possible.
Family immigration visa categories are of two types:
Immediate relatives: This includes the immediate close relatives spouse, unmarried children under the age of 21 of the US citizen and parents, provided the US citizen sponsoring is at least 21 years of age.
Family preference relatives: This includes four preference categories – the spouse, minor children, unmarried children of lawful permanent residents, married children of US citizens and their spouse and siblings of the US citizen.
Requirements for family based immigration:
In family based immigration, one can sponsor a relative to immigrate to the US, but there are certain requirements one has to meet to sponsor them like:
- Individual who is sponsoring them should be a US citizens or a lawful permanent resident
- Willingness to file I 130, Petition for Alien relative for the relative whom you would like to sponsor
- Evidence on the funds to support the family that is having income level at 125% of the federal poverty level
Benefits of family based green card:
- Have the right to work anywhere in US
- Can sponsor your relatives
- Do not require Employment authorization to work
- Can become US citizen once the residence requirements are met.
Family based green card can be applied through a two step process:
- The US citizen or legal permanent resident should submit form I-130 to petition for the Alien relative with a proof of relationship
- Once the green card petition is approved by the USCIS, if you are already present in the US, you can adjust to permanent resident status from your non-immigrant status .
Therefore considering all the advantages of possessing a green card, and obtaining green card through a family member, you not only become a legal permanent resident, but later can apply for citizenship and thereby speed up the process of getting green cards for the rest of the family.