A United States citizen has several options for petitioning for family members when using the I-130 application. But before starting this family-based immigration process, it’s important to define which relatives are eligible based on your immigration status.
As a green card holder or lawful permanent resident, you can petition for the following family members:
As a U.S. citizen, you can petition for the following family members:
Unmarried children under 21
Married children over 21
Parents (if you are 21 or over)
Brother/Sister (if you are 21 or over)
To apply for residency through marriage, the applicant must be legally married to a permanent resident or citizen of the United States. Those who are in a domestic partnership or have been married only through the church do not qualify. Legal documentation through the court is necessary.
Both individuals wishing to proceed in the residency application must be single or divorced prior to marriage in order to qualify. Any previous marriages, including those entered into in another country, must be dissolved completely and recorded in the civil registry.
There are two types of residency through marriage: permanent and conditional. This will be determined by how many years the couple has been married by the time the beneficiary is issued residency.
In order to be approved, the individuals must show that their marriage was entered in good faith and for love. They should be able to prove the validity of their marriage. Following are some examples of documentation that show a bonafide marriage: mortgage or lease showing their names, joint bank / credit accounts, birth certificates of children in common, and declarations attesting to cohabitation from family and neighbors and wedding photos.
The process of applying for residency begins with the filing of an I-130 application. Those beneficiaries who last entered the United States with inspection and are married to a United States citizen are not required to leave the country in order to obtain lawful residency.
If the beneficiary has not entered the country legally, they are required to return to their country of origin in order to be interviewed at the United States Embassy within that country. There is the 245i exemption to this law which allows certain individuals who were petitioned by an employer or family member prior to May of 2001 to obtain their residency in the United States.
A legal consultation with a practicing and licensed immigration attorney, not a notary public, is highly recommended. Each case is unique and requires in-depth legal analysis to ascertain the right strategy.
If you are a U.S. citizen engaged to a non-citizen who is living abroad, there are options available to help them obtain permanent residence here in the U.S. The K Visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows the fiancé of a United States citizen to enter the United States so the couple may wed.
The K Visa process requires two parts. First, the application must be filed for approval within the United States. Next, the fiancé will be required to interview at the United States Embassy within their country of origin. In order for the petition to be approved, both parties must be free to wed, have met in person within the last two years and have the intention to marry.
Apply for a Fiancé Visa — this allows your fiancé to enter the U.S. for 90 days, during which time you must get married
After you marry, your spouse can apply for permanent residence
If your fiancé works, they can apply for permission to work
Interested in learning more?