Family immigration is when a US Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident petitions for a relative so that relative may receive legal permanent residence (also known as a green card).
Who Can Petition For Whom?
US Citizens may petition for the following family members:
Their children and/or stepchildren under 21 years of age (no wait for these – just processing times)
Their single children over 20 years old (there is a wait list depending on country of origin and number of cases)
Their married children over 20 years old (there is a wait list depending on country of origin and number of cases)
Their spouse (no wait for these – just processing times)
Their parents if the US citizen is over 20 years old (no wait for these – just processing times)
Their siblings (brothers and sisters) – (there is a wait list depending on country of origin and number of cases)
Permanent Residents (green card holders) may petition for the following family members:
Their children under 21 years old (short wait list for these)
Their spouse (short wait list for these)
Their single children over 20 years old (if these children get married while waiting they automatically lose their petition)
How Long Does It Take?
Some categories for US Citizen family (listed above) have no wait list. Even where there is no wait list, however, there are processing times so it is not immediate. Processing times depend on case loads at USCIS. Ask our attorney for the current estimated processing times.
For some US citizen categories and all permanent resident categories (listed above), there are wait times in addition to processing times. These can range from 1 year to 25 years depending on the cateogry. Ask our attorney for current estimated wait times.
What Are The Government Fees?
Currently, the total government fees for applying for legal permanent residence (green card) within the United States are $1760. The total government fees for the same process from outside the United States (an immigrant visa), come out to $1200.
How Much Does The Petitioner (US Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident) Need To Make Per Year To Sponsor A Family Member?
The minimum income for the Petitioner depends on the Petitioner’s number of dependents. For example, a petitioner who has no dependents (besides the beneficiary), must show that he/she earned at least $20,575 (as shown on line 37 of their taxes – Adjusted Gross Income) and will earn at least the same the year of the green card application (I-485) is submitted. A petitioner who has 4 dependents (besides the beneficiary), for example, must show that he/she earned $42,175 in the previous year and will do so the same year as the green card application.
If the Petitioner cannot show that he/she earned and/or will earn sufficient income, he/she may have a joint sponsor sign in addition to his/her. The joint sponsor needs to be able to show enough extra income to make up for the Petitioner’s shortfall. Although the joint sponsor can be any US Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident (or even the Beneficiary if the Beneficiary is legally working in the US), we highly recommend using a family member because of recent practices under the Trump administration.
What Else Do I Need To Know?
There are a lot of other factors that come in to play for these cases depending on the Beneficiary’s visa history, how he/she entered the US, possible criminal history, etc. We highly recommend anyone thinking of entering into this process speak with an attorney. There are many risks even for seemingly straightforward cases.
What Other Services Does DMT Law Firm Provide For These Cases?