Immediate Relative U.S. Immigrant Visa Petitions

Spouses, parents, and children under 21 of U.S. citizens are considered “immediate relatives” under the immigration law. They are not subject to numerical limitations on immigrant visas and therefore there is no requirement to "wait in line" for a visa to become available.  If an immediate relative is in the U.S. after being lawfully admitted, they are generally eligible to file for adjustment of status (green card) without having to leave the U.S. to apply for an immigrant visa abroad.

If you are looking for information on sibling petitions or spouses and children of permanent residents, please see our page on Preference Categories.

For immediate relatives who are outside of the U.S., the general application process is as follows:

  1. U.S. citizen petitioner submits Form I-130 with fees and supporting documentation to USCIS.
  2. Upon approval by USCIS, the application is transferred to the National Visa Center, which is part of the U.S. Department of State.
  3. The National Visa Center collects additional fees and documentation from the petitioner and relative.
  4. Once the National Visa Center has received all necessary documentation, the application is sent abroad to the appropriate U.S. consulate/embassy.
  5. The relative is scheduled for an interview, and if there are no issues, the relative's visa is approved and they can travel to the U.S. to join their family member.

For immediate relatives who are inside the U.S. and were lawfully admitted, the general application process is as follows:

  1. U.S. citizen petitioner submits Form I-130 with fees and supporting documentation to USCIS.
  2. If eligible to do so, the intending immigrant relative concurrently files Form I-485 with appropriate fee and supporting documentation.
  3. In most cases, especially marriage-based, the petitioner and beneficiary are scheduled for an interview at USCIS.

Affidavit of Support

In family-based cases, an affidavit of support from the petitioner is required.  There is a narrow exception for cases involving minor children who will derive U.S. citizenship from their parent upon admission as a permanent resident. The petitioner must demonstrate that he or she is able to support the intending immigrant at or above 125% of the federal poverty guideline for their household size. If the petitioner is unable to meet this requirement, a joint sponsor will be necessary to fulfill this requirement. The joint sponsor must be 18 or older, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and domiciled in the United States.

Regarding Marriage-Based Cases

The immigration laws take marriage fraud very seriously. Therefore if you have a marriage-based case, you will need to provide substantial evidence that your marriage is "bonafide."  Such evidence includes, but is not limited to: children, joint assets, joint insurance, photos together, and affidavits from family and friends. If you are called for an adjustment interview at USCIS, you will be questioned about your relationship. In some circumstances, you and your spouse may be questioned separately. Also, USCIS will sometimes conduct a home visit to investigate whether or not you are residing together as a bonafide couple.  There are severe penalties, both civil and criminal, that could potentially be imposed if you and/or your spouse are found to have committed marriage fraud.

How We Can Help

  • For family members who are outside the U.S., we assist with completing and filing the petition with USCIS, managing the case with the National Visa Center, and communicating with the embassy/consulate through the final stages for the visa interview.
  • For family members who are in the U.S. and who are eligible to apply directly for their green cards, we assist with completing and filing the petition and representation at the interview with USCIS.
  • Our firm will ensure that your case is presented in the best possible light and that you are fully educated on the process and any potential issues.

We welcome you to contact the Brian M. Wang | Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP to schedule a consultation about how we may be of service in your immigration matter. Based in the Albany, NY Capital District area, we assist clients throughout New York, in all 50 states, and worldwide with United States immigration law.

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