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What You Need to Know About Family-Based Immigration

Rights and Requirements Related to Family Immigration to the U.S. 

People often seek to live permanently in the United States through family-based immigration. Family-based immigration is based on a relative sponsor who will provide an Affidavit of Support verifying that they have the financial means to support you after you immigrate. Only certain individuals may become sponsors, so it is important to know your rights if you are seeking family-based immigration for a family member.

At Fong Ilagan, our Houston immigration lawyers will fight to ensure your rights are represented. We are experienced attorneys that understand the unique challenges immigrants and their families face. If you are interested in seeking family-based immigration, contact us online or call (713) 772-2300 to schedule a consultation.

What Is Family-Based Immigration?

There are multiple ways to petition to live permanently in the United States, one of them being through family-based immigration. To achieve this, you must secure an immigrant visa or, if eligible, apply for adjustment to status to Permanant Resident in the United States. To apply for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status, you will need to be sponsored by a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident relative who is 21 years of age or older. 

Family-based immigrant visas can generally be achieved in one of two ways:

  • Immediate relatives – Individuals who hold an immediate “close family relationship” with a U.S. Citizen. U.S. Citizens may file immigrant petitions for a spouse, parents, or minor, unmarried children under the age of 21.
  • Family-sponsored preferences – U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents may sponsor other relatives under the family-sponsored preference system to live permanently in the United States. U.S. Citizens may file a preference petition for their unmarried sons and daughters 21 years of age or older, child, parent, married sons and daughters, and their siblings. Lawful Permanent Residents may only submit a petition on behalf of their minor children under the age of 21 or unmarried sons and daughters 21 years of age or older. 

Family-based immigration begins with the filing of a Petition for Alien Relative. Once the petition is filed, the case is submitted for National Visa Center (NVC) processing, and the beneficiary appears at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate for the immigrant visa interview. Or, if the beneficiary is eligible and an immigrant visa number is available, the beneficiary can apply for an adjustment of status to Permanent Resident in the United States. Immigrant visa numbers are always available to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. Wait times for immigrant visa numbers under the family preference categories vary widely and are controlled by the Visa Bulletin. Immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens who entered the U.S. lawfully may apply for adjustment of status in the U.S. An experienced Houston immigration lawyer can help you throughout the complicated process to ensure your rights are represented. 

Filing an Affidavit of Support

After paying the processing fees, your sponsor must file an Affidavit of Support. The Affidavit of Support must indicate that your relative sponsor has the financial means to support you when you arrive in the United States. They will have to provide financial documents to prove their income. For those who apply for adjustment of status in the U.S., the Affidavit of Support is typically submitted with the adjustment of status application.

What Financial Requirements Does a Sponsor Need to Meet?

A sponsor must show that they make equal to or higher than 125% of the Federal poverty level. The only exception is if a sponsor is on active duty in the armed forces and is petitioning for their spouse or child. In that case, the sponsor must only show that they make equal to or over 100% of the U.S. poverty line. The income level requirements are based on your household size.

Should I Hire an Immigration Lawyer?

Immigration is a complex legal process that requires extensive knowledge of federal law. Without a Houston immigration lawyer, you could waste significant time and money only to end up nowhere. A skilled lawyer will guide you through the process, ensuring you understand your responsibilities and are prepared for any obstacles you may encounter. 

Considering Family Immigration? Contact Our Office Today. 

Are you considering family immigration into the United States? Contact us online or call (713) 772-2300 to schedule a consultation. Our dedicated lawyers and other hardworking team members will review your case and help determine the best course of action to follow. We are an experienced, dedicated legal team that fights for our clients. We proudly serve families in Houston and throughout the surrounding communities. Call today to speak directly with a member of our firm. 

At Fong Ilagan, we work hand-in-hand with our clients to ensure they receive the best outcome possible on their cases. Our lawyers are fluent in several languages to ensure our clients feel comfortable and fully informed about their rights. Get the legal advice you need to make informed decisions. 


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