Family Immigration Attorneys
Permanent immigration to the United States comes with a variety of rights and privileges. One method to obtain lawful permanent residency is through a relative who is either a US citizen or lawful permanent resident.
Eligibility for Family Immigration
Applicants are divided into preference categories depending on the status of your sponsor. Children (under 21 years old), spouses and parents of US citizens are considered “immediate relatives” under the immigration law and are not required to be classified in a family-based category. If in the US, and if eligible, immediate relatives may generally apply for “adjustment of status” to lawful permanent residence.
Other family members, however, are subject to classification within the family-based categories. This normally means some period of waiting after the initial filing until they become eligible to either adjust status if in the US or apply for an immigrant visa if they are outside the US. Family members subject to the family-based categories include:
- Unmarried sons and daughters (over 21 years old) of US citizens
- Spouses, children and unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents
- Married sons and daughters of US citizens
- Siblings of US citizens (over 21 years old)
How do I apply?
If you are a US citizen and lawful permanent resident, you can petition for your family members to immigrate. Learn more about this process by visiting our page: Procedure to Petition for Family Member Outside the US.
What types of visas are covered under family immigration?
The most common types of visas given to family members are:
A US citizen may apply for a foreign national fiancé that he/she has met at least once in person. A K-1 visa, also known as the “fiancé visa,” will result in permanent resident status as long as the marriage takes place within 90 days of arriving in the US. K-1 visa holders are eligible to receive employment authorization. Dependent children of K-1 visa holders may accompany the visa holders under K-2 status. It is important to note that lawful permanent resident status will be granted if and only if the K-1 visa holder marries the sponsoring US citizen fiancé. A marriage to any US citizen other than the sponsor will not result in lawful permanent resident status.
K-3 and K-4 Visas
Under the Legal Immigration Family Equality Act (LIFE Act) and its amendments, a K Visa allows the spouse and unmarried children (under 21 years old) of a US citizen to enter, live, and work in the United States as nonimmigrants until they receive lawful permanent resident status. The spouse receives a K-3 Visa and children receive K-4 visas. This visa is rarely used now because the processing time for the nonimmigrant K-3 visa is often the same or even longer than the processing time for the immigrant I-130 immediate relative petition.
Eligibility for a K-3 (Spouse) Visa:
- You are married to a US citizen.
- Your US citizen spouse has completed and filed Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) with USCIS.
- You want to enter the US to wait for the approval of the petition and become a lawful permanent resident.
- The US citizen petitioner files an Form I-129F petition with USCIS with proof that the Form I-130 petition has been filed. Once approved, USCIS will send the file to the US State Department National Visa Center (NVC). After being cleared, the NVC will then forward the Form. You have to forward the approved Form I-129F (Petition for Alien Fiancé) to the US Consulate (which issues immigrant visas) in the country you were married. If you were married in the US, the approved petition must be forwarded to a consulate which has jurisdiction over the area in which you live.
Eligibility for a K-4 (Child) Visa:
- You are unmarried and under 21 years old.
- You are the child of a foreign national who is eligible for a K-3 Visa.
The advantage of having a K-3 or K-4 nonimmigrant visas is you’re allowed to work in the United States while waiting to adjust your status to lawful permanent resident. You still must have employment authorization.
Note: You will not have to apply for a work permit after you become a lawful permanent US resident. You will receive a permanent resident card which allows you to live and work in the US. Even if you are still waiting for permanent resident status, your valid K-3 or K-4 nonimmigrant visa allows you to travel in and out of the US.
For more information on K Visas, contact us today
Foreign National-Spouse Visas
US immigration law allows two methods for US citizens to bring spouses to the United States:
- K-1 Fiancé Visa
- Foreign National-Spouse Immigrant Visa
The K-1 Visa is used when the couple is engaged and will marry in the United States. The Foreign National-Spouse Visa is a proven path toward lawful permanent residency for your spouse. If the marriage takes place abroad, the US citizen spouse must file an I-130 petition with USCIS after the marriage. In most all cases this must be filed with USCIS in the U.S. There are, however, several USCIS offices abroad that will accept spousal visas including, US Embassies and Consulates.
What should I do to get started?
Family immigration can be a complex process. If you are considering petitioning for a family member, contact the immigration attorneys at Antonini & Cohen for a consultation or call us at 404-850-9394.
“My experience with Antonini & Cohen was unimaginably satisfactory. Mr. Cohen in a tremendous professional manner handled mine and few of my family members’ different types of cases. Such as citizenship, resident card, and petition for removal. My case was the most complicated and longest of all, but with Mr. Cohen’s experience and knowledge of the law and the firm’s team work and great dedication, it was a triumphant one. My family and I are very pleased with the office. I highly recommend these attorneys. They’re the best at their field!”
“I thought I was going to be sent back to El Salvador. I’ve been living here for 30 years. Carolina opened my case again when it was closed.”
-Miguel Angel Castro, Family Immigration
Angie Antonini is a senior paralegal with Antonini & Cohen. She grew up in La Victoria, Venezuela, a small town an hour from Caracas, the capital. Born to an American mother and Venezuelan father, she traveled to the United States every summer to visit family and...
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