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Posted on in Immigration

Stamford immigration lawyer

In the United States and across the entire world, immigration and immigration laws have become a heated and widely discussed topic. In the past few weeks, the White House has proposed a bill that would change the United States immigration system into a merit-based one. But what does this mean, and how will it affect individuals and families who are seeking to enter the United States through family-based immigration? If you or someone you know is looking to migrate to the United States, you should speak to a knowledgeable immigration lawyer to find out how these changes will impact you.

A Merit- and Point-Based System

The proper way to look at these proposed changes to immigration is that it is not about reducing immigration, but rebalancing it. As the American immigration system stands now, a wide variety of people across a substantial social and economic spectrum can gain admittance to the United States. Under the new proposed changes, individuals who are young, healthy, well educated, and speak English will be given priority. Whether a potential immigrant meets such criteria will be determined using a point system. Such individuals will be required to do a more intensive citizen test before being given admittance to the United States.

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How Can I Sponsor My Niece or Nephew for U.S. Immigration and Permanent Residency?There are several ways that an American citizen can help a niece or nephew immigrate to the U.S. and obtain a green card, also known as lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. Unfortunately, there is no immediate relative or family preference visa category that allows you to directly sponsor their immigration. Rather, you must consider one of these more circuitous routes:

1. Adopt an orphaned niece or nephew under age 16, making them an immediate relative.

The immediate relative (IR) category allows for the quickest path to immigration, as there are no annual limits on the number of IR visas. The IR category is available to the following relatives of a US citizen:

  • Your parent;
  • Your spouse;
  • Your unmarried child under age 21; or
  • An orphan under age 16 whom you have adopted outside the U.S. or will adopt once they reach the U.S.

2. Sponsor the parent of your niece or nephew for a family preference visa.

The family preference visa category allows U.S. citizens age 21 and older to sponsor the immigration of their siblings, subject to an annual quota of 65,000. The sibling petition can include the sibling’s spouse and minor children under age 21. 

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New Canaan family immigration attorney sibling visaMany people who have successfully immigrated to the U.S. wish to help their siblings immigrate as well. One option is the family preference visa program, specifically, the F4 visa category. However, be aware that only 65,000 F4 visas are available per year. Once the sponsor’s petition is approved, the immigrant (known as the applicant) may have to wait 10 years or more for an F4 visa to become available.

Requirements to Sponsor Siblings for U.S. Immigration

You must be an American citizen and at least 21 years old in order to sponsor the immigration of your brother or sister. Your sibling may be of any age. You must also have sufficient income and/or assets to support the immigrant.

To begin the process, you must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). On a single form, you can name your sibling along with his/her legal spouse and your sibling’s unmarried children under age 21. Along with this form, you must provide sufficient documentation to prove your citizenship and your sibling relationship.

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Visiting the U.S. While Waiting for Immigration Visa Approval

New Canaan immigration visa attorney visitor visasGiven the long waiting times for U.S. family immigration visas, many people wonder if they can visit their family in the United States while their visa application is pending. The short answer is yes, but as explained below, visits require advance planning.

The Waiting Time for an Immigration Visa Can Be Months or Years

The estimated processing times for Form I-130 petitions for family immigration are currently:

  • Five to seven months for a spouse or child under age 21 of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or a parent of a U.S. citizen. 
  • 67 to 87 months for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident filing for an unmarried child over age 21.
  • 71 to 92 months for a U.S. citizen filing for a married child over age 21.

The wait is much shorter for the first category, because there are no annual limits on visas for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, while there are quotas for the other categories shown above. Wait times are for September 2018 at the Vermont USCIS service center.

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Understanding and Overcoming Denial of a Family Immigration Visa

Westchester County immigration visa denial attorneyWhen a U.S. citizen wants to help other family members immigrate to the United States, being denied a family-based visa can be heart-wrenching. This bad news can be difficult to bear after the months spent waiting for approval and fearing the possibility of denial. The good news is that an initial denial can often be overcome.

Common Reasons for IR and F Visa Denial 

Insufficient documentation to prove the required spousal, parent-child, or sibling relationship is a common reason for denial of a family-based visa.

For an Immediate Relative (IR) visa, the sponsor must be a U.S. citizen, and the applicant must be the sponsor’s spouse, unmarried child under age 21, parent, or an orphan being adopted. 

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Fairfield County Bar Association Connecticut Bar Association American Immigration Lawyers Association Connecticut American Immigration Lawyers Association
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