Obtaining a residence permit in the US through family reunification is one of the most common ways of immigration to the US. If you have close relatives who are citizens of the US (in some cases the green card holders), then perhaps you have a chance to obtain on this basis a residence permits in the US.
In what cases is immigration possible through family reunification?
There are several categories for which reunification is possible:
- a US citizen with his immediate relatives. In terms of US immigration law, the closest relatives are: spouses, kids under the age of 21 and unmarried, parents of a US citizen in case the US citizen is over 21 years old. Any other family ties from the standpoint of US law do not fall into the category of closest kinship;
- a US citizen with a member of his family falling into one of the following categories: unmarried kids, married kids of any age, brothers and sisters of a US citizen in case the US citizen is over 21 years of age;
- a permanent resident of the US (a green card holder) with a member of his family: a spouse or a single kid.
Special cases: elderly or disabled spouse or kid of a US citizen, a bride’s visa, a foreign diplomat’s kid born in the US, a widower of a US citizen. Immigration to these categories will be considered in separate articles. In order to facilitate the family reunification process, the US authorities allow green card holders to apply for permanent residence in the US for their relatives.
Persons with a US permanent residence in the US (green card holders), those who have a green card can apply for immigration to the US of their husband or wife, as well as kids of any age who are not married (see the note below for an age limit of 21 years for kids).
However, the US Congress establishes an annual limit on the issuance of visas to the US for this category, so you often need to be prepared for a sufficiently long period of waiting for a visa in the US.
Immigration to the US through a relative – a US citizen or a resident of the country for permanent residence – is still the most reliable and therefore popular way to obtain a residence permit in the US.
The main thing that needs to be proved is the existence of family relations between you and your American sponsor. The simplicity of the immigration process through the family category is largely predetermined by the American concept of the enduring value of the family for each person.
As the name of the category implies, the main reason for immigration is the presence of a family member as a lawful resident of the US (be it just a right to permanent residence or full citizenship). There are two categories of relatives who meet the requirements of immigration law – close relatives and other family members. Close relatives of American citizens have a preferential status.
Mostly, this concerns the right to immigration in unlimited quantities and without any quotas.
Group category of the relatives US citizens and permanent residents of the US (holders of green cards).
The number of immigrants in this group has certain limitations. This group is divided into three categories of family preferences or preferential categories (preference categories).
Since the number of applicants in this group exceeds the allocated quotas, there is a certain priority, based on the date of filing the applicant documents.
In addition to the filing date, the waiting time for your queue depends on your family preference category, and on what country you are immigrating to the US.
The first group – IR (Immediate Relative), or a connection with the next of kin, has the following subcategories:
- IR-1: a visa intended for the spouse of a US citizen.
Condition: be in married for at least 2 years. The advantage of this visa is that you will have a full range of rights, including you can leave the country and work legal. There is also a disadvantage: while your application will be considered, you will not be able to apply for a visa of a different category.
- IR-2: unmarried kids of a US citizen, under the age of 21.
- IR-5: parents of an American citizen who is over 21 years old.
Next category — Family Preference — with the designation F (don’t twist with the visa of the category F, issued to students studying in the US) has the following subcategories:
- F1 — unmarried kids (age 21 and over) of US citizens;
- F2 — spouse and minor unmarried kids younger than 21 y.o.;
- F3 — married kids of US citizens, their spouses and kids under the age of 21;
- F4 — siblings of US citizens and their unmarried kids under 21 years of age.
The next category — a Conditional Resident, or CR, consist from two subcategories:
- CR-1: the visa is received by the spouse whose marriage was concluded less than two years ago. The visa of this category is similar to the IR-1 visa, however it has one significant difference: a spouse can be deported if within two years after the transfer the marriage is terminated.
- CR-2: unmarried under-age children under the age of 21 of an American citizen (marriage between spouses must be concluded before the child reaches the age of eighteen).
What kind of document needed to provide?
A US citizen or a green cardholder who want to reunite with a relative filling Form I-130 (petition for the granting of a residence permit to a relative). In the event that the relative is already in the US, the US citizen also submits Form I-485 (petition for status change).
In addition, the applying citizen or resident of the US must provide evidence of the financial independence of the person applying for a residence permit through family reunification.
As a rule, such a certificate is Affidavit of Support, an official document obliging a US citizen to provide all the necessary financial assistance to his relative. In order to give out a relative to Affidavit of Support, you must have a corresponding average annual income.
Reunification of US citizens and green cardholders with their spouses
Form I-130 is enclosed with:
- two filled forms of the G-325A (one from itself, the second on the husband / wife)
- copy of marriage certificate
- evidence that all marriages in which you and your husband / wife have ever been consigned have been terminated (divorce, death of one of the spouses, recognition of the marriage void, etc.)
- passport format photos
- documents confirming the change of name, if ever there was in relation to you, or the spouse
- documents confirming the status of a US citizen (or a copy of a green card for greencardholders)
Reunion of US citizens with children
The following documents are attached to Form I-130:
- documents confirming US citizenship
- a copy of the child’s birth certificate;
- copy of the child’s birth certificate
- copy of the marriage certificate with the biological mother of a US citizen
If you are no longer married to the biological mother of a US citizen, you must provide proof of this: a certificate of divorce, the death of the spouse or the recognition of the marriage as invalid.
If you were not married to a biological mother of a US citizen until the child turned 18, you must provide.
If the legislation of the country where the biological mother of a US citizen resides, recognizes the child as legitimate, then there is no need to provide anything.
Otherwise, you need to provide evidence that there is or between you and the child existed or there was a paternal-son relationship before the child turned 21 or before he married.
These proofs include evidence of mutual emotional attachment, as well as evidence that you were financially involved in the life of the child (spending money on it).
Reunion of US citizens with parents
Form I-130 is accompanied by:
- a copy of the birth certificate containing the names of the parents
- documents confirming the US citizenship of the applicant
- in case that a US citizen who is reunited with his father was born out of marriage, then it is necessary to provide evidence of the emotional and financial relationship between the citizen and his father before the citizen reaches the age of majority or before the marriage/
Reunification of US citizens with siblings
Form I-130 is accompanied by:
- documents confirming the US citizenship of the applicant
- copy of the birth certificate showing that the US citizen and the person with whom he is reunited have at least one common parents
Given all of the above, we recommend you to give maximum attention to even small details when applying for a visa of the appropriate category, to exclude in the future unnecessary financial costs, as well as the loss of time that you could use for more best goals!
Now you know the details about Family Green Card program and can share your thoughts with us. Maybe you have additional questions? Ask them in the comments below and tell us what you want to know about the theme.