In this article, you can find key information such as:
- The list of family members who a petitioner can apply for a visa.
- The two types of sponsors: petitioner and financial sponsor.
- Family members must enter the country legally to legally live in the U.S. while the visa petition is processed.
Who Is Eligible To Apply For A Family Based Visa?
There are five official categories under the family-sponsored preferences:
- (F1) Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens
- (F2A and F2B) Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents (21 yrs. or older)
- (F3) Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens
- (F4) Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens.
Eligibility is determined by several criteria: availability of visas, filing date, and admissibility to the U.S., to name a few.
Who Is Eligible To Be A Sponsor Of A Family Based Visa?
There is a distinction between a petitioner, the individual who is eligible to sponsor a family member for immigration to the U.S., and a financial sponsor, the individual who accepts financial responsibility for the Beneficiary. The two terms often get confused.
The petitioner is not required to be the financial sponsor, and a beneficiary may have more than one financial sponsor, often referred to as joint sponsorship.
For example, say you are now a U.S. citizen filing to bring your sister to the U.S. but you don’t have the financial means to be the financial sponsor. Instead, your uncle, also a U.S. citizen, has a thriving U.S. business and has dreamed of helping you bring your sister to the U.S. You would be the petitioner. Your uncle would be the financial sponsor.
All financial sponsors must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, be at least 18 years old and be living in the United States when they file Form I-864, the Affidavit of Support. If this form is not filed with the underlying petition or shortly thereafter for consular processing cases, the beneficiary will not be granted permission to immigrate based on that petition.
Can My Family Member Come To The United States To Live While The Petition Is Pending?
There are certain circumstances in which a family-sponsored foreign national may legally reside in the U.S. while his or her visa petition is pending. This type of case is typically referred to as Adjustment of Status. One of the most important criteria is that the foreign national must have entered the U.S. legally, meaning he/she was inspected at a U.S. port of entry and lawfully admitted into the U.S.
Perhaps your parent came to the U.S. on a legal visa. Thus, they legally entered the U.S. As a U.S. citizen, you may file an Adjustment of Status while they are here in the U.S.
Note that even if an individual is eligible for Adjustment of Status, they should also confirm that they are not statutorily barred from adjustment, as Adjustment of Status is technically discretionary and not mandatory. There are some exceptions to this requirement, and certain legal remedies such as Waivers of Admissibility can be explored to overcome statutory bars.
In such situations, seeking the advice of an immigration attorney in New York and New Jersey is in your best interest.
What Is The Process To Apply For A Family Based Visa?
There are several ways to obtain a family-based visa, such as:
(1) As the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR);
(2) As another relative of a U.S. citizen or LPR under the family-based preference categories;
(3) As the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen or the fiancé(e)’s child; or
(4) As a VAWA self-petitioner if you are the victim of battery or extreme cruelty imposed by a U.S. citizen or LPR spouse, parent, or child.