Family Based Sponsorship: What you need to Know

Generally, a U.S. citizen can sponsor a foreign relative to live in this country as long as the correct steps are followed. This involves filing a petition with the proper service center and providing supporting documentation and requisite proof of a bona fide relationship. In general, any U.S. citizen (regardless of age), can file for an immigrant spouse. A U.S. citizen’s parent, spouse, or unmarried child under 21 years of age is considered an immediate relative. There are no annual, numerical limits on entry into the United States for immediate relatives and these relatives are not subject to the wait periods that other relatives are.

In addition to filing a petition, as a U.S. citizen sponsoring a foreign relative, the U.S. citizen must also submit an affidavit of support to prove that he/she will be able to financially support the relative once he/she moves to this country. There are certain minimum income requirements to be met based on the number of people in your household and the year in which the application is being filed. As an example, the minimum income requirement for a family of two filing in 2010 is $18,212.

Getting a family-based Green Card is a two-step process. The first step is the “Immigrant Petition” which establishes that a qualifying relationship exists between the U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident and the Green Card applicant. In a marriage case, the applicants must demonstrate to the government that their marriage is bona fide and not entered into solely to circumvent the numerical limitations of the immigration process. Joint documents such as bank statements, utility bills, lease agreements and car insurance with both your names on it as well as other evidence of “shared life” are the easiest ways to demonstrate a bona fide marriage. The second step is the Green Card application. If the sponsor is a U.S. Citizen and the Green Card applicant is a spouse, parent or minor child who is currently in the U.S., then these two steps can usually be combined into one. Otherwise, applicants must wait for the immigrant petition to be approved before they can move on to the Green Card application.

Timing: Currently, the government is taking less than five months from the date of filing an adjustment of status application to schedule your interview. Within 90 days of filing the application, the government will issue you a work permit and within 1 month of filing, the government will schedule your fingerprinting appointment to capture your biometrics and complete a security background check prior to your interview.

Generally, the process begins after you get married. Once we are retained, we will send you a comprehensive list of documents to collect. We will need things like your birth certificate, passport, marriage certificate and six passport-style photos. A medical exam conducted by a doctor authorized by the Department of Homeland Security will also need to be submitted.

Finally, if you are married for less than two years on the day your case is approved, your green card will be a conditional one, good for only two years. On the second anniversary of obtaining your green card, the applicant must submit more joint documents to the government demonstrating that you continue to remain married, live together and have a bona fide relationship.

Although not a guarantee, we maintain a 100% success rate on family based adjustment cases. When you are ready, we would be happy to assist you on your immigration to the United States.