Family-based immigrant and nonimmigrant visas are one of the major ways foreign nationals enter, remain, and obtain permanent residence in the United States. The policy behind family-based visas is family reunification. All family-based immigrant visas require a petition to be filed in the United States, proving eligibility for the benefit.
- There are sponsor-based family immigrant visas whereby the petition is only filed by a qualifying family sponsor or petitioner. Such sponsor-based applications involve spouses, parents, children, and siblings of U.S. citizens, and spouses and children of lawful permanent residents (LPRs).
- There are some petitions that do not necessarily require a family sponsor but require a qualifying family relationship to be eligible for this “self-petition.” Such petitions would involve those exposed to domestic violence who qualify under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
- Widowers and other qualified family members of deceased petitioners may be eligible as self-petitioners as well.
Whether sponsor-based or self-based, the petition must first be filed and approved. A visa must be available before the foreign national can obtain a visa or adjust status to permanent residence. At this stage, the foreign national applicant must meet certain admissibility requirements to enter on a visa or to obtain permanent residence in the United States, unless waived under certain circumstances. One of these admissibility requirements, public charge, is applicable to all family-based immigrant applications and requires the submission of an affidavit of support. After obtaining permanent residence, some family members are subject to a two-year condition and must take proactive measures in the future to maintain their residence in the United States.
If you are a family law or immigration law practitioner, consider attending this short, 90-minute presentation to get the fundamentals of family-based immigration on February 6, 2012. The program, Family-Based Immigration: An Introduction to Concepts and Procedures, will cover:
- Qualifying relationships to sponsor a family member
- The process for those family members sponsored
- The Affidavit of Support requirement
- Other options to family sponsorship
- Conditional Residence Status
- K-1 Fiancé Visas
- The concept of admissibility
This program is based on a chapter from the new CBA-CLE book, Immigration Law for the Colorado Practitioner. This indispensable reference, written with the Colorado lawyer in mind, covers a wide range of practice issues, providing the orientation, analysis, and authorities for immigration lawyers and lawyers whose practice overlaps with immigration law. Click here for more information about the book.
A free portion of the Family-Sponsored Immigration chapter, written by the program’s faculty, Catherine O. Brown, is available below for your reference, along with details about the program.