What Family Members Can I Sponsor?
If you are a U.S. citizen, you can file an I-130 petition for an immediate relative: a spouse, a child under 21 years of age, and a parent (if you are at least 21 years of age). You can also file an I-130 petition for an adult son or daughter or a sibling. If you are not yet married, you can file an I-129F (a K-1 petition) for your fiancée.
If you are a U.S. permanent resident, you can file an I-130 petition for a spouse, a child under the age of 21, or an unmarried adult son or daughter.
Unfortunately, under U.S. immigration law, it is not possible to sponsor any other family members or relatives.
The I-130 petition is usually the first step in the process, and depending on your immigration status and which family member you are sponsoring, the entire process may take many years.
I Am Planning To Get Married, How Does My New Spouse Get A Green Card?
Fiancée Visa (Also known as a K-1 visa)
You are getting married! Congratulations! Depending on your situation, it may make sense to start the immigration process before you are actually married. This is called a fiancée visa or a K-1 visa. Vicki Anderson Immigration Law can help you determine if the K-1 visa process is the best option for you and your soon-to-be spouse. The K-1 process involves three separate steps or stages:
- K-1 petition on Form I-129F, which is filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). The petition establishes that you are a U.S. citizen, that you and your fiancée are legally able to marry, that you and your fiancée have been together in person during the past two years, that the two of you have a bona fide relationship, and that you intend to marry each other within the first 90 days after your fiancée arrives in the U.S.
- K-1 visa application at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate after the K-1 petition has been approved by the USCIS. Your fiancée will need to have a medical examination done by the Embassy’s or Consulate’s panel physician. Then your fiancée will need to attend a visa interview at the Embassy or Consulate.
- I-485, Application to Adjust Status, after the K-1 visa has been issued, your fiancée has entered the U.S., and the two of you have married during the first 90 days after your fiancée’s arrival. This is the actual green card application, which is filed with the USCIS. When this application gets approved, your spouse will be granted conditional permanent residence, which is a two-year green card.
Spousal Visa (Also known as a CR1 or IR1)
If you are already married and living outside the United States, this is the process for you! Even if you are not yet married, this may be your best option. Vicki Anderson will explain the reasons to choose this process over the K-1 fiancée visa process. Unlike the K-1, there are only two steps or stages:
- I-130 immediate relative petition, which is filed with the USCIS. The I-130 petition establishes that you are a U.S. citizen, that you and your spouse are legally married, and that you have a bona fide marriage.
- Immigrant visa application, which is processed through the National Visa Center (“NVC”) and the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your spouse’s home country after the I-130 petition has been approved. Your spouse will need to have a medical examination done by the Embassy’s or Consulate’s panel physician. Then your spouse will need to attend a visa interview at the Embassy or Consulate. If all goes well at the interview, your spouse will be issued an immigrant visa (CR1 if you have been married less than two full years or an IR1 if you have been married at least two full years).
Unlike the K-1 visa, your spouse will be granted permanent residence upon entering the U.S. with the immigrant visa. There will be nothing further to file with the USCIS at that time.
If your spouse is already in the United States and last entered the U.S. lawfully (was inspected and admitted or inspected and paroled) you will likely be filing a one-step application with the USCIS. Just as the name implies, everything is prepared and submitted at the same time and is then processed together at the USCIS. Specifically, you will be filing an I-130 petition on behalf of your spouse, and your spouse will simultaneously file an I-485 application for adjustment of status. Usually, an I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and often an I-131, Application for Travel Document (for Advance Parole), will also be filed with the one-step application. The I-765 and I-131 Applications are adjudicated by the USCIS National Benefits Center. The I-130 petition and I-485 application are adjudicated by your local USCIS Field Office after you and your spouse are interviewed there. When both the I-130 petition and I-485 application have been approved, your spouse will be a U.S. permanent resident with either a 2-year green card or a 10-year green card, depending on how long you have been married when the I-485 application is approved.
Vicki Anderson Immigration Law, LLC has a lot of experience with all three of these processes and can guide you through whichever process you choose. Vicki Anderson can ensure that everything is properly filed and can take away some of the stress involved in the green card process.
My 2-Year Green Card Is Going To Expire, How Do I Renew My Green Card?
If you obtained conditional permanent residence based on your marriage to either a U.S. permanent resident or a U.S. citizen, you must file an I-751 petition to remove the conditions on your permanent resident status during the 90-day period right before your green card expires. The I-751 petition is filed with the USCIS. The purpose is to prove to the USCIS that you and your spouse have been living together in marital union for the two-year period. The USCIS will want to see proof of commingled finances/assets and a shared residence for each month during those two years.
If your marriage ends during the two-year period, you can file the I-751 petition as soon as the marriage ends. However, you will need to request a waiver of the joint filing requirement when you submit Form I-751. The standard of proof is higher when you do not file jointly with your spouse. Thus, you should be prepared to submit as much documentation as possible to prove that you and your spouse married in good faith.
It is also possible to file an I-751 petition with a request for a waiver of the joint filing requirement if you were battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by your spouse during the marriage or if the termination of your status and removal from the U.S. would result in extreme hardship.