What is family-based immigration?

Family immigration is the primary basis for legal immigration to the United States. Under current immigration law, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) can sponsor certain family members for a visa that provides permanent residence, also known as a “green card.” 

Who is eligible for a family visa?

There are only two groups who are eligible for family visas:

I. Immediate relatives: 1) spouses of U.S. citizens; 2) unmarried children under 21 of U.S. citizens; 3) orphans adopted abroad, 4) orphans to be adopted in the U.S., by U.S. citizens; and 5) parents of U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old.

II. Family preference categories: 1) unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, their spouses and their children; 2) spouses, minor children and unmarried sons and daughters over 21 of LPRs; 3) married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their spouses and minor children and 4) brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years old.

Note: U.S. citizens and LPRs cannot sponsor other family members such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws and cousins for immigration.

What are the requirements for family visas?

Sponsor in the U.S., application, numerous screenings and background checks, interview, fee and medical examination. The sponsoring relative, who must be over the age of 18 (in some cases 21) and reside in the U.S., is first required to file a petition for his or her family member(s) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In this petition, they must prove the legitimacy of their relationship and that they meet income requirements. The sponsor must also submit a signed affidavit of support stating that he or she will be financially responsible for the applicant(s). Each prospective immigrant then undergoes extensive background and security checks, including criminal, national security, health-related and other screenings. USCIS also examines all the green card applications to determine the immigrant will not likely become a public charge who will need public assistance.

After USCIS approves the petition, they send it to the National Visa Center (NVC), which directs the applicant to complete certain forms and submit appropriate documents and pay the fees. Once the NVC receives all the required documents, a U.S. Embassy or Consulate officer interviews the applicant to determine his or her eligibility. All applicants must also undergo a medical examination performed by an authorized physician and obtain certain vaccinations before the government will issue the visa.

Marriage & Family Immigration


Bringing Families Together In The U.S.

One of the most rewarding parts of my practice is the opportunity to bring families together to pursue temporary or permanent opportunities in America. I see the challenges people face every day being separated from their spouse, fiancé(e), children, parents or siblings, and I take pride in my reputation for helping clients reach their immigration goals.

I work with individuals who are seeking marriage, fiancé(e) and family visas to pursue or extend residency in the United States. I bring a passion for my work, a proven record of success and a commitment to client service to every case.


If you are not yet married, a K-1 non-immigrant Fiancé(e) visa allows someone you are engaged to who is residing outside the country to enter the United States so that you can marry and file for permanent status.

In order to apply for a fiancé(e) visa, the petitioner must show that they are a United States Citizen and that they intend to get married with 90 days of your fiancé(e) entering the United States. They must also show that any previous marriages were legally terminated. Additionally, you must show that both of the partners in person met at least once in the past two years, unless such meeting would have violated the norms of their culture or a such meeting would have resulted in any hardship.


You can immigrate to US, or change status if you are already in US through your US Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident spouse. 

Spouse of a US Citizen is considered as immediate family preference and do not have to waive for a visa number to become available. 

Spouse of a green card holder is considered as F2A family preference and have to wait for a visa number to become current after filing I-130. 


If you are outside of the country, then your spouse should petition for you and once that is approved and you receive a visa number, then you can schedule an interview at the nearest US embassy to you to finalize your visa and receive an immigration visa.  Once you enter US, you will receive your green card.


If your spouse is a US citizen, then he or she could file a petition, request for change of status, work authorization and travel documents all simultaneously for you.

If your spouse is a green card holder, then he or she should first petition for you and once a visa number becomes current for you then you can request for change of status, work authorization, and travel documents. 

Parent, Children or Sibling:

I can help you bring your children, parents and siblings from abroad into the country.


US Citizen may petition for green card for his or her child (under 21) and visa numbers are immediately available for them. 

US Citizen may petition for his or her married over 21 years old children under F3 family preference and their spouse and child would also qualify to receive a green card.

A Green card hold may petition for his or her unmarried over 21 years old children under the F2B family preference.

Note that if the son or daughter gets married while his petition is pending s/he become ineligible to receive green card under F2B.  Consult with us before you take your next big step.


US Citizen who is over 21 years old can apply for green card for their parents as their immediate family and do not have to wait for a visa number to become current for them. 


US Citizen who is over 21 years old can apply for green card for their siblings under immigrant family preference F4. Sibling's spouse and children under 21 will all be eligible to receive green card as well.   

Child Status Protection Act (CSPA)

Sometimes an alien has to wait years or decades before he or she could be eligible to receive a green card. During that time the derivative children may turn 21 and become ineligible for green card. This is called "aging out".  In 2002 congress enacted a law that could protect children who have aged out in certain situations.  

Please contact us to inquire more about this and whether your child could be eligible to use CSPA.

Spouse or child of a visa holder:

Most visa categories (student, employment, athlete, entertainer, artist, etc.) allow for spouses and minor children to accompany the primary visa holder.

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Citizenship & Naturalization


How Our Office can help

I work with clients through a range of issues, including:

  • Naturalization based on five years as a permanent resident
  • Fast-track naturalization based on a three-year marriage to a U.S. citizen
  • Fast-track naturalization through military service
  • Advising on special issues including criminal convictions, selective service, tax or fraud issues
  • Applying for citizenship for U.S. nationals
  • Appeals of denials
  • Acquired or derived citizenship through a parent

The requirements for naturalization of individuals in the United States can be complicated. The immigration system has rigorous standards, and applying for citizenship properly can often be a complicated and confusing process. The longer you delay seeking legal help, the more difficult your case can become.

An applicant for US citizenship must meet the following requirements:

Must be admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident (LPR), commonly referred to as one who possesses green card status. There is only one exception to this requirement: If an applicant has served in the US armed forces during war, that person may be naturalized without first becoming a permanent resident if they were in the United States upon induction or enlistment into the US military.

Continuous residence in the US for at least five years immediately preceding the applicant's filing for naturalization. Continuous residence is not the same thing as physically present here. That is, one must maintain their status as a legal permanent resident but not necessarily be physically inside the borders of the US to accomplish this. For example, if one is overseas for a portion of this period, maintaining an address location and paying one's state and federal taxes may help ensure continuity of residence for this requirement. Also, if overseas for any more than a few months, it may be advisable to obtain a travel document prior to departing. This may be done on INS Form I-131. Only three years continuous residence are required if the applicant is filing for US citizenship based upon marriage. This exception applies if you are the spouse of a US citizen and have been married for three years; are the battered spouse of a US citizen (even if you are separated or divorced); are a refugee or political asylee; in the US military or are a widow or widower of someone in the US military; or are a spouse of a US citizen in particular overseas jobs.

Actual physical residence (within the state in which the petition is filed) during at least the three months immediately before filing for US citizenship is another requirement.

Physical presence within the US for a total of at least one half of the period of required continuous residence. That is, two and a half years for most applicants and one and a half years for spouses of US citizens.

Continuous residence (but not necessarily physical presence) in the United States from the date of filing the naturalization application up to the date of being sworn in as a US citizen.

The ability to read, write and speak ordinary English unless they are physically unable to do so due to a disability such as being blind or deaf, or suffer from a developmental disability or mental impairment. Those over 50 years old on the date of filing who have lived here for a total of at least 20 years after admission as a permanent resident and those who are over 55 and have been legal permanent residents for at least 15 years are also exempt from this requirement.

A basic understanding of the fundamentals of US history and government. There is an oral test that covers fundamentals of US history and government and it is required for naturalization.

Good moral character and an affinity for the principles of the US Constitution. Good moral character is reflected in the applicant's behavior before applying for US citizenship. Good moral character is demonstrated by paying taxes and having a clean criminal record, for example, and is an important part of qualifying for naturalization.

Applicants should be at least 18 years of age at the time of filing. Certain exceptions exist, however, for the children of other permanent residents who are seeking naturalization.

Other Paths to Citizenship

An applicant under the age of 18, may still qualify for naturalization if one of his or her parents is a citizen or becomes a citizen of the United States.

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