Pennsylvania Family Immigration Attorney Advocating for Clients and Their Families
Family relationships are some of the closest we have during our entire lives. If you are currently separated from your family — or you have family members who are only able to be in the United States for a limited time — you may be wondering about family-based immigration options. Find out more about how this works and what you need to know about the process.
Sponsoring or being sponsored by a family member is a popular immigration method for those who want to come to the United States. However, understanding which family-based immigration method is the right one for your situation can be challenging, and it’s difficult to navigate the process alone. Get help and support throughout your immigration journey when you work with the legal team at The Law Office of Rosina C. Stambaugh.
What Is Family-Based Immigration?
Family-based immigration is a term for the different processes in place that allow people to come to the United States through family sponsorship. This can include marriage-based options, such as a fiancé visa or being sponsored by a close family member who is either a U.S. citizen or a Green Card holder.
Family immigration can be done through an immediate relative visa, which requires that the sponsoring family member be a spouse, parent, or child and a U.S. citizen. The other option is a family preference visa, which is applicable to more distant family members and can be sponsored by a lawful permanent resident. Only a certain number of family preference visas are given out each year, so it’s important to work with an attorney to find out if you’re eligible and get the process started as soon as possible to avoid having to wait until the next period.
Who Is Eligible for Family Immigration?
To be eligible for family immigration, you must meet the requirements for the type of visa you are pursuing. This includes being able to prove that you are a qualifying family member of the sponsor, usually through birth or marriage records. You must also go through a background check and can be found inadmissible if you have a criminal history, especially for violent or major crimes. You will also need to submit to a medical examination to show that you don’t have any communicable diseases and be able to show that you have some means of financial support. This usually comes in the form of an affidavit from the sponsor stating that they will be supporting you at least until you are able to get work authorization and employment on your own.
What Are the Requirements to Sponsor a Family Member?
In general, you must be at least 21 years old and be either a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident to sponsor a family member’s immigration. You will also need to show that you meet the minimum income requirements to be able to sponsor, and the number changes depending on how many people are already in your household and how many people you will be sponsoring. You will need to show proof of that income — such as bank statements or a W-2 from a job — and provide an affidavit that you are taking financial responsibility for your family members.
Can I Work Through Family-Based Immigration?
It is possible to be able to legally work in the United States through family-based immigration, but the exact terms depend on your status and location. In most situations, you will need a work permit to be able to find a job and be legally employed. If you are being sponsored by a U.S. citizen, you may be able to file for a work permit at the same time as you file a Green Card application. However, those who are being sponsored by a lawful permanent resident may have to wait longer. It’s also important to note that you can only apply for a work permit if you are physically present in the United States.
It can take several months for a work permit to be processed and mailed to you, so it’s important to have a plan for your finances during that time — whether that’s relying on your sponsor for financial support or using savings. Once you have a valid work permit in the United States, you are eligible to work part-time or full-time jobs and will be able to take most jobs. If you are applying for a Green Card through family-based immigration, you will be eligible to work without a separate work permit once your Green Card is approved.
What Happens If My Application Is Denied?
It can be difficult to get a letter of denial if you were hoping to keep your family together through family-based immigration. However, denial doesn’t mean that this dream is gone forever. Visas can be denied for a number of reasons, from simple technical errors with the paperwork to being deemed ineligible for admission, so the first step is to know exactly why you were denied. Schedule an appointment with an attorney and bring your paperwork, including a copy of your application documents if you have it and your letter of denial. An immigration attorney can help you understand the denial reason and give you information on what your options are.
In some situations, you may have the option to appeal the denial. However, this is often a formality and only a small fraction of appeals are turned over upon review. In most cases, the best option will be to fix whatever the reason for denial was and reapply. For example, if you are trying to sponsor a family member, but you don’t meet the current income requirements, you can spend a year increasing your income so that you are above the threshold and try again. If you were denied because there were no family-preference visas left to be given out this fiscal year, it might just be a matter of waiting until the next opening.
One thing to keep in mind is that if your family member is currently in the United States and is trying to stay through sponsorship, this may mean that they face having to leave or be deported when the family visa doesn’t go through. If this is your situation, speak to an immigration attorney as soon as possible to find out your options. Depending on the circumstances, there may be other available visas, such as those for victims of crimes or asylum status.
If you are interested in using family-based immigration processes, call The Law Office of Rosina C. Stambaugh at 717-912-8555. You can schedule an appointment to meet with an immigration attorney who can help you understand the different options and the requirements for reach. If you’re ready to move forward, we can help you gather the necessary paperwork, fill out your application, and officially start the immigration process.