Everything You Need To Know About Family-Based Immigration

Jul 11, 2023 | Immigration

There are many difficult transitions that a person who immigrates to the United States must go through in order to pursue their American Dream. If you are an immigrant yourself, you probably know first-hand how painful it can be to leave the country you know and love, leave behind many of your belongings, and start a completely new life in a new place with new systems and culture. You may have also had to leave behind beloved family members without knowing if you’d ever see them again, all in the hopes that your new life would be prosperous and rewarding. 

The good news is that, as a permanent legal resident of the United States, you may be able to sponsor some of your loved ones who are looking to make their own journey to the U.S. While the road might be complicated and often seem endless, Ortega Law Group is here to guide you and your loved ones every step of the way, and give you your best chance at achieving your immigration goals! In this blog, we’ll be discussing the 3 most frequently applied for family-based immigration visas, as well as their eligibility requirements, the steps it takes to be approved, and the most common reasons for denial. For more information regarding these family-based visas and any other immigration routes, call Ortega Law Group to schedule a free consultation and get your questions answered!

Fiance Visa (K-1 Visa)

A K-1 visa, or “fiance visa” as it is usually referred to, allows the person you are engaged to be married to to enter the United States so that you can be married here. They are the most common type of family-based visas acquired each year. To be eligible,

  • You must be a U.S. citizen, not just a green card holder
  • You must both be unmarried
  • The two of you must have met in person at least once within two years of applying, unless there are exceptions like a hardship, cultural customs, etc.
  • You must have a real relationship and be able to prove its legitimacy 
  • You must intend to get married within 90 days of your fiance’s arrival to the country
  • You must have an income that is at least 100% above the poverty line

If all eligibility requirements are met, you will then file Form I-129F with the USCIS, along with all supporting documentation that proves the validity of the relationship. Then, your fiance will file Form DS-160 with the State Department online, along with supporting documentation, and possibly an Affidavit of Support (Form I-134) which will be completed by you. Finally, your fiance will undergo an interview before they can be either approved or denied. 

Your betrothed has six months after being granted the K-1 visa (starting at the initial filing date) to enter the United States. Then, you both have 90 days to officially tie the knot! Once the 90 days have passed, the K-1 visa will expire and cannot be renewed. You will then be able to apply for a marriage-based green card so that your spouse can remain in the U.S. 

Spouse Visa (CR1 or IR1 Visa)

A spouse visa, or marriage-based green card, can be granted to spouses of U.S. citizens or green card holders who are wishing to enter the country to live and work. There are two types of spouse visas: CR1 and IR1. Extensive documentation must be provided to apply for either of these visas, and there is also the possibility of having to complete an Affidavit of Support. To be eligible for a spouse visa,

  • You must be a citizen or permanent legal resident
  • You will need to submit extensive documentation – such as those showing joint property ownership, joint finances, etc – that proves the validity of your marriage
  • Your spouse will have to participate in a medical examination
  • Your income must be at least 125% above the poverty line
  • You must have a U.S. address (or proof that you are returning with your spouse)

A CR1 visa is for couples who have been married for 2 years or less. After an additional 2 years of residence in the United States, you must apply to remove the conditions of this visa and obtain your 10-year permanent resident green card. The IR1 visa is for couples who have been married for longer than 2 years, and are valid for the next 10 years before it must be renewed. 

Parent Petition (IR-5 Visa, Form I-130)

If you would like to sponsor one or both parents in their United States immigration journey, you may submit a parent petition by completing Form I-130 so that they may obtain an IR-5 visa. As with the other family-based visas, supplementary documentation is required to prove your citizenship, as well as your parentage. Other parental-type figures – such as a stepparent or adoptive parent – will need to meet additional requirements. To be eligible,

  • You must be a U.S. citizen
  • You must reside in the U.S.
  • You must be 21 years or older
  • Your income must be at least 125% above the poverty line

What Would Cause A Family-Based Petition To Be Denied?

Family-based petitions are often denied for a few of the same reasons, such as:

  1. Mistakes were made in the paperwork. It is crucial to ensure your paperwork is completed correctly, accurately, and on-time to have the best chance at approval. Working with an experienced immigration lawyer can give you assurance that you have not made any errors and that you have included the right type of supporting documentation.
  2. Your supporting documentation was not convincing enough. While the documentation you need to provide will vary based on the type of petition you are filing, you need to make sure it is legitimate and is solid proof of the relationship you are trying to prove. Again, an immigration lawyer will be the best source of confirmation as to the strength of your documents and whether you have provided enough evidence or need to include more. 
  3. Violations such as overstaying a visa or being convicted of a crime. Either of these will cause the individual to be ineligible to obtain a visa for a certain number of years.
  4. You do not meet the income requirements. If you are under the income requirements by a considerable percentage, you may not be eligible to sponsor your loved one, and thus their entry will be denied. 

Ortega Law Group Will Work To Reunite You With Your Loved Ones

Our lead attorney, Isaac Ortega, has helped hundreds of clients navigate their immigration campaign. He has experience dealing with the USCIS, Board of Immigration Appeals, and the 9th Circuit Court, as well as a former career as a law enforcement officer. You can feel confident in his knowledge and sensitivity when it comes to complex immigration issues. Call today to schedule your free consultation and learn more about how we can work to reunite you with your loved ones!

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