U.S. Immigration: Temporary and Permanent Status

Family-Based Immigration

The INS allows immigration of foreigners to the United States based on a relationship they have to a United States citizen or permanent resident.

Applications fall under two categories:  Immediate Relatives and Family-based Preference Categories.

Immediate Relatives

This category is reserved for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. The following persons are defined as “immediate relatives:” spouses of United States citizens; minor children of United States citizens under the age of 21; parents of U.S. citizens (providing that the citizen petitioner is at least 21 years of age).  Special provisions exist for spouses of deceased U.S. citizens. Please contact us for further information. There are no derivative beneficiaries permitted under immediate relative petitions.  Each individual must qualify through their individual relationship to the sponsor as an immediate relative.

Preference Categories

Outside the immediate relative classification, other family relationships are eligible for sponsorship under the following preference categories:

  • First Preference: unmarried, adult, twenty-one years or older, sons and daughters of U.S. citizens;
  • Second Preference: spouses, unmarried sons and unmarried daughters of lawful permanent residents.
  • Third Preference: married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
  • Fourth Preference: brothers and sisters of United States citizens provided the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years of age.

Under the preference categories, a spouse or child of the beneficiary is entitled to the same status, and the same order of consideration, if accompanying or following to join, the spouse or parent.

All applicants immigrating through the family-based category must obtain a legally binding Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) as a condition of admission. Sponsors who sign the document must be at least 18 years of age, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, living in the United States, and able to financially support the family member being sponsored. The sponsor is financially responsible for the family member until the applicant has become a U.S. citizen or has accrued forty qualifying fiscal quarters of work in the U.S. The affidavit is enforceable regardless of the sponsor’s actual intent.

Before the issuance of an immigrant visa every applicant, regardless of age, must undergo a medical examination. A designated doctor will conduct the examination. Each visa applicant aged sixteen years or over is required to submit a police certificate from the police authorities of each locality of the country of the applicant’s nationality or current residence where the applicant has resided for at least six months since attaining the age of sixteen. Police certificates are also required from all other countries where the applicant has resided for at least one year. A police certificate must be obtained from the police authorities of any place where the applicant has been arrested for any reason, regardless of how long he or she lived there. Police certificates must cover the entire period of the applicant’s residence in any area. A certificate issued by the police authorities where you now reside must be of recent date when presented to the consular officer. U.S. government application fees are non-refundable.

For further details on any of the immigrant categories, please contact us for a consultation.