Friday, July 19, 2013

An Immigration Lawyer Can Help Reunite Families

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If you think your family might be eligible to join you in the United States, working with an immigration lawyer can often make the process easier. Since 1965, the most common form of migrating to the US has been through family reunification. Immediate family members can be sponsored by a legal resident or citizen to come to the US based on a preference system. Family reunification accounts for a huge part of US immigration each year and it is important to understand the specifics of the policy.


The order of preference for sponsored family members depends on their relationship to the sponsor. An immigration attorney can explain the specifics of the policy, but the basics are that only minor, unmarried children and spouses qualify for the highest priority. Older, married children and parents receive a separate classification. Siblings may also be eligible for sponsorship, but again, they are placed in a different priority than immediate family. Applications are accepted based on this priority order, so the relationship makes a difference in your chances of success. 


Immediate family, which includes spouses and unmarried children who are under the age of 21, are eligible to migrate to the US. It is often a good idea to first present your documentation of such relationships to a Los Angeles immigration lawyer to ensure you have everything correct before proceeding with your formal petition. Small mistakes such as leaving off a second last name can delay or completely stall your application. If the citizen sponsor is over the age of 21, their parents also fall into the category of immediate family and are eligible for the same benefits. There are limitations to this clause. If the parent has previously entered the country illegally, they may face up to a ten-year ban before they are able to claim this status. If you find yourself in this type of situation, immediately consult an immigration attorney to evaluate your options. 


Internationally adopted children of US citizens are also considered immediate family, but the process for obtaining citizenship is different. The type of paperwork that is required in such cases may depend on what country you adopt your child from. It is important to find out if the adoption agency you use works with an immigration lawyer or if that is something you need to take care of on your own. If your adoption has already been finalized, be sure to follow up with the correct agencies to ensure that citizenship is taken care of as soon as possible to avoid future roadblocks. Every detail on the visa application needs to be in order for the citizenship process to go smoothly for your child. Misspelled or changed names or a wrong birth date can stall the process, so work through these issues before you apply for the initial visa.


Family members who are not considered immediate family are given a preference category according to their relationship to their US citizen sponsor. Married and older children and siblings fall into this category. Seek the help of an immigration lawyer when filing this kind of petition to ensure you submit the correct paperwork and that your family member is eligible for a preference category. Although these family members are given a priority date, not all of these petitions will be granted. Only a certain number of non-immediate family members are allowed into the US each year. Filing your application at the soonest possible date will give you the best opportunity for success.


Family reunification is responsible for the largest number of immigrants migrating to the United States each year. An immigration attorney can evaluate your case and tell you if this is a good path to pursue in your goal of attaining a green card for your relatives.

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