Murphy Law Firm immigration lawyers handle all aspects of family immigration, both seemingly simple cases and those that are more complex.
The evolving international economy, natural disasters and armed conflict have resulted in the relocation of families to the United States for work, education, and many other reasons. Due to difficult U.S. immigration laws, as well as economic and social pressures, families are often separated with the hope of being reunited in the future. As family circumstances change, opportunities arise that enable family unification. These opportunities include bringing parents, siblings or elder children into the U.S., fiance visas, marriage to a U.S. citizen, adjustment of status, removing conditions on a marriage-based “green card,” naturalization, and other immigration plans tailored to meet your individual needs.
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Included for your reference below are brief descriptions of the visas available for family and marriage-based immigration to the United States. Please contact the immigration attorneys at the Murphy Law Firm for additional information and to discuss the best options for you and your family.
If your fiancé(e) is not a U.S. citizen, is located overseas and you plan to get married in the United States, then you must file an I-129 petition with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). After the petition is approved, your fiancé(e) can obtain a K-1 visa at the U.S. Embassy or consulate abroad before he/she may enter the U.S. Once your foreign national fiancé enters the United States, the marriage must take place within 90 days. If the marriage does not take place within 90 days or if your fiancé(e) marries someone other than you, he/she will be required to leave the U.S. and immigrate through a process called Consular Processing. Please note that a fiancé(e) may not obtain an extension of the 90 day original nonimmigrant admission, so it is vital to marry within 90 days of admission into the U.S.
Once you are married, your fiancé(e) should apply to become a permanent resident. If he/she does not intend to become a permanent resident after your marriage, he/she must leave the U.S. within the original 90 day admission. When your spouse’s permanent resident status is approved, it will be a conditional permanent residence status that is only valid for two years. Before the two years expires, you must file a joint petition to remove the conditions on the resident status. Failure to file the application to remove conditions will result in the spouse losing their legal U.S. resident status.
If your fiancé(e)'s has unmarried children who are under the age of 21, you may also apply to bring them to the United States. The children of the fiancé(e) are deemed K-2 visa holders and must also apply for permanent residence once the marriage takes place.
The Legal Immigration Family Equity Act and its amendments (LIFE Act) established a new nonimmigrant category within the immigration law that allows the spouse or child of a U.S. Citizen to be admitted to the United States in a nonimmigrant category, and enables them to complete processing for permanent residence while in the U.S. The LIFE Act grants permission for employment.This process generally allows a spouse to enter the United States faster than marriage-based Consular Processing.
The requirements for a K-3 visa are as follows:
The K-3 petition is forwarded to the American consulate where the individual wishes to apply for the K-3/K-4 visa. The consulate must be in the country in which the marriage to the U.S. citizen took place, as long as the United States has a consulate which issues immigrant visas in that country. If the marriage took place in the United States, the designated consulate is based on the current residence of the foreign national spouse.
Similar to K-1 visas, the foreign spouse's unmarried children under age 21 can be included in the parent's petition and receive K-4 visas. However, if a child is 18 years of age or older at the time of marriage then, although the child can receive a K-4 visa and enter the United States, that child cannot obtain a green card. The child's K-4 visa will simply expire after two years or when the child reaches the age of 21, whichever occurs first. At that time the child will have to leave the United States, or pursue other immigration options. Accordingly, you and your spouse should determine other visa options for the child as soon as possible after the child’s entry into the U.S.
The LIFE Act also established a new nonimmigrant category within the immigration law that allows the spouse or child of a U.S. lawful permanent resident to live and work in the United States until they are able to apply for lawful permanent residence status (adjusting status) or for an immigrant visa, instead of having to wait outside the United States as the law previously required. This new nonimmigrant category is the V visa.
A person may apply at a U.S. consulate abroad for a V-1 or V-2 visa or seek V-1 or V-2 nonimmigrant status while in the United States, if that person:
The derivative child of a V-1 or V-2 nonimmigrant is eligible for a V-3 visa or for V-3 status. V-1, V-2 or V-3 visa holders are eligible to apply for a work permit by filing an Application for Employment Authorization (I-765).
A foreign national can obtain legal permanent resident status in the U.S. by being the beneficiary of a petition filed on their behalf by a qualifying relative. While many detailed rules apply, generally the relationships of Husband/Wife, Parent/Child, and Brother/Sister can create the basis for a family relative petition. The petitioner must be a U.S. citizen or a Legal Permanent Resident in order to apply for their relative.
Depending upon the nature of the relationship, the nationality of the person seeking legal permanent residency, and the past or present immigration status of the petitioner, there are waiting lists that will impact how long the foreign national must wait before immigrating to the U.S.
Although some of these waiting lists can force people to wait years based on their family relationships, Congress created several categories of family visas to allow foreign nationals to come to the U.S. without these significant delays. These additional visa options, such as the K and V visas, were discussed previously.
Originally, the Immigration and Nationality Laws of the United States provided that foreign nationals may only acquire their immigrant visas outside of the U.S. at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. However, in 1952 Congress began allowing qualifying individuals to adjust their status to that of a permanent resident without leaving the United States. "Adjustment of Status" is a legal term that means a person changes from one visa type or immigration status to that of a legal permanent resident (green card holder) without departing the United States.
The Adjustment of Status application (Form I-485) is filed by a foreign national who is physically present in the United States and who decides to adjust his or her non-immigrant status to permanent resident status. Once the application is approved, you are granted permanent resident status in the United States without having to process through a U.S. Consulate abroad. Two additional benefits of the Adjustment of Status Process are that you may also apply for employment authorization (work card) and advance parole (travel document) at the same time as the Adjustment of Status application. The employment authorization and advance parole enable you to work and travel while the application is pending. However, those who have overstayed a prior visa by six months or more should not leave the United States prior to receiving the adjustment of status, or you will be faced with a bar to reentry.
The steps for adjustment of status are as follows:
You may apply to adjust your status:
You are not eligible for adjustment of status if any of the following apply to you: