Jean Danhong Chen Shares Everything You Need to Know About Sponsoring Family Members
As a resident of the United States, it is very likely that if you have siblings, parents and children living in another country, you will want them to join you. However, the process of sponsoring family members is often a long and arduous one which may need clarification.
Engaging exclusively in U.S. immigration and naturalization law, Jean Danhong Chen of San Jose, California, has been committed to providing quality employment and family-based immigration services to corporate and individual clients throughout the United States since 2003. She breaks down everything from requirements to the application process for sponsoring family members.
Who is Eligible for Sponsoring?
You can petition to bring your family members to the United States only if you are a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen. There are two groups of family-based immigration categories: immediate relative and family preference. Jean Danhong Chen explains that only a United States citizen can petition for someone to enter as an immediate relative, and only for the following specific relatives: a parent, spouse, child of the U.S. citizen, a child of the spouse, orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen, and orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen. As a U.S. citizen, this is arguably the easier option for sponsoring a family member.
On the other hand, family-preference visas are for specific, more distant, family relationships with a U.S. citizen and some specified relationships with a Lawful Permanent Resident. Unlike immediate relatives, there are fiscal year numerical limitations on family preference immigrants, and their categories are: unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (and their minor children), spouses, minor children, unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over of LPRs), married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (and their spouses and minor children), and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.
This is a long list; however, Jean Danhong Chen explains that it is important to note who is not included on the list: grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, parents-in-law, and other extended family members.
Jean Danhong Chen Explains the Application Process
Once you have identified that you are eligible to sponsor your family member, it is time to start the application process. Jean Danhong Chen explains that it will be your job as a U.S. citizen or green card holder to start the process by submitting a visa petition. Your family member will not be able to enter the United States until both the petition and a number of subsequent applications have been approved by the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). It is important for you to prove that the family relationship is real.
Once the USCIS receives the petition, the officers will consider whether to approve or deny the request. If it is approved, the case file will be forwarded to the National Visa Center for further processing; however, if it is denied, it is still possible for the petitioner to file a new petition after determining what changes need to be made to encourage approval. It may be useful to work with an immigration lawyer on this paperwork to ensure you get approved the first time.
Visa Availability and Waiting Times
If you are in the family-preference group, you will then wait for visa availability. Jean Danhong Chen explains that relatives that are not considered ‘immediate’ are not eligible for permanent residence right away, as there are annual limits on the number of green cards that can be approved. This means that your family member will then join a waiting list, which means waiting usually around a year before learning if a visa is available. If the petition has been approved and a visa has become available, the family member would then submit an application for permanent residence.
The average waiting time for either category can differ vastly. The first preference is for adult unmarried children of U.S. citizens, and has an average wait time of seven years. Second preference is given to spouses or children of permanent residents and has an average wait time of two to seven years. Third preference is given to married children of U.S. citizens, waiting as long as 12 years, while fourth preference is given to brothers and sisters of U.S. residents who often have to wait up to 14 years.