Chicago Family Immigration Lawyers

Let Us Help Bring Your Family Members to the United States

At Cho Immigration Law, we understand the importance of family. We want to help you fulfill your dream of bringing your spouse, your children, and your parents to the United States. Our Chicago family immigration attorneys can show you the options available. We then help you determine the right method and guide you through each step of the immigration process. 

Bringing relatives into the United States isn’t easy. Cho Immigration Law can help. (312) 853-3088.

Do You Need to Hire a Family Immigration Lawyer in Chicago?

Hiring a family immigration lawyer in Chicago is essential for navigating the legal system and staying up-to-date with the ever-changing immigration laws and regulations. Family-based immigration can present various challenges, particularly when the demand for immigration exceeds the annual quota. This can lead to lengthy waiting periods and backlogs. 

A family immigration lawyer can help you gather the necessary documentation, complete and submit forms accurately and on time, ensure that your case is presented effectively, and increase your chances of success while avoiding any unnecessary delays. 

What Is Family-Based Immigration?

Family-based immigration is a system that allows individuals to immigrate to the United States based on their relationship to a family member who is already a citizen or a legal permanent resident in the U.S. This form of immigration is often seen as a way to reunite families and maintain close ties between relatives who may have been separated due to geographic boundaries.

Family-based immigration is a common method for individuals to legally immigrate to a new country because it provides a support system and a sense of familiarity for the foreign national. It allows families to remain intact and maintain strong bonds while adjusting to a new culture and setting. This type of immigration also has economic benefits, as newcomers can rely on their family members to help them navigate unfamiliar methods and processes, and secure employment and housing.

Overall, family-based immigration plays a crucial role in creating diverse and vibrant communities in the United States by fostering family unity and promoting cultural exchange. 

What Is a Family-Based Green Card?

A family-based green card, also known as a family-sponsored immigrant visa or a family preference immigrant visa, is a type of immigration benefit that allows a foreign national to obtain lawful permanent residency (a green card) in the United States through sponsorship by a qualified family member who is a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident.

The availability of family-based green cards is subject to visa priority dates and annual numerical limits, which can sometimes result in lengthy waiting periods.

The family-based immigration process involves a series of steps, including the sponsor filing a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), visa processing by the National Visa Center (NVC), and an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate in the foreign national’s home country. 

Once granted a family-based green card, the recipient obtains lawful permanent residence, allowing the foreign national to live and work in the United States indefinitely. After a certain period of time, the immigrant may also become eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.

Who Is Eligible for a Family-Based Green Card?

Under family-based immigration, eligible family members can sponsor their immediate relatives such as spouses, parents, and unmarried children under the age of 21 for a family-based green card. Green card opportunities may also be extended to siblings, adult children, and married adult children’s spouses and children. 

Who Is Eligible to Sponsor a Family Member for a Green Card?

To be eligible to sponsor a spouse or other family members for a green card, the petitioner must meet various requirements. Some of these include providing proof of sufficient financial support to avoid becoming a public burden, demonstrating a close familial relationship, and holding United States citizen or lawful permanent resident status.

How to Apply for a Family-Based Green Card

Applying for a family-based green card is a significant step towards reuniting with your loved ones in the United States. The process involves two main routes: consular processing and adjustment of status. To begin the application process, a U.S. citizen or green card holder must file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of the eligible family member with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once the petition is approved, the applicant can move forward with consular processing or adjustment of status, depending on the specific circumstances.

Obtaining a Family-Based Green Card Through Consular Processing

Consular processing is the pathway to a family-based green card for foreign nationals who reside outside the United States or are ineligible for adjustment of status. After the Form I-130 petition is approved, it is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC), which handles visa processing. The NVC will request various forms and documents, including the Affidavit of Support, civil documents, and the immigrant visa application. Once the necessary documentation is submitted and processed, the applicant will be scheduled for an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. If the consular officer approves the visa, the applicant can enter the United States as a lawful permanent resident.

Applying for Adjustment of Status to Get Your Green Card

Adjustment of status is the process of obtaining a family-based green card for people who are already present in the United States with a valid nonimmigrant visa or, in some cases, with no status at all. To apply for adjustment of status, the applicant must have an approved Form I-130 and an available visa number, or if the applicant is an immediate relative, the Form I-130 can be filed concurrently with the Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, along with other required documents to the USCIS. If the applicant is eligible, he or she may also file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, to receive a work permit while the green card application is pending. Once the USCIS approves the adjustment of status application, the applicant will be granted lawful permanent residency and receive a family-based green card.

Family Preference Green Card Petitions

The Family Preference Green Card program allocates a certain number of visas each year for different categories of family members. These categories determine the priority level of the petitions and dictate the waiting periods for visa availability. Therefore, it is essential to understand the different family preference categories and their requirements before filing your petition.

Who Are Considered Immediate Family Members?

Immediate family members are considered to be the closest relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. As a U.S. citizen, your immediate family members include your spouse, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents (if you are at least 21 years old). As a lawful permanent resident, your immediate family members are limited to your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21. Children who are adopted before they turn 16 and have lived with the adoptive parents for at least two years are also considered immediate family members under certain circumstances.

The immediate family members of U.S. citizens have multiple advantages when it comes to immigration. First, there is no waiting period or numerical limit for immediate family members to obtain a Green Card. As soon as the relative’s petition is approved, foreign nationals can begin the process of obtaining their immigrant visa or adjusting their status to lawful permanent resident.

Who Are Family-Preference Immigrants?

Family preference immigrants include certain relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who do not qualify as immediate family members. These relatives are divided into the following preference categories:

1. First Preference (F1): Unmarried adult sons and daughters (over the age of 21) of U.S. citizens.

2. Second Preference (F2A): Spouses and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of lawful permanent residents.

3. Second Preference (F2B): Unmarried adult sons and daughters (over the age of 21) of lawful permanent residents.

4. Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.

5. Fourth Preference (F4): Siblings of U.S. citizens (the U.S. citizen petitioner must be at least 21 years old).

Family preference immigrants have limited visa availability, which means there may be a waiting period before they can obtain their Green Cards. The waiting period varies depending on the category, the applicant’s country of origin, and the number of visas available each year.

It is important to have an understanding of the preference categories and the potential wait times before filing a Family Preference Green Card petition for your family members. The Department of State (DOS) website provides up-to-date information on visa availability and processing times to help you make an informed decision.

Reuniting families is a primary goal of the immigration system, and the Family Preference Green Card program plays a crucial role in achieving this. Through careful planning and understanding of the eligibility requirements, your family immigration lawyer can help you navigate the immigration process to bring your loved ones closer and create a brighter future together in the United States. 

FAQs About Family Immigration in the United States

Can a lawyer help you get a family green card faster?

While a lawyer cannot guarantee a specific timeline for obtaining a family green card, an experienced immigration attorney can streamline the application process, reduce potential delays, and increase the chances of a successful outcome.  There are several ways in which an immigration lawyer can speed up the green card process:

  1. Correct and Complete Application: A lawyer will ensure that your family green card application is correctly filled out and includes all the necessary supporting documentation. Submitting a well-prepared application reduces the chances of delays due to errors or missing information.
  2. Knowledge of Immigration Laws and Procedures: Immigration laws and procedures can be complex and subject to frequent changes. An immigration lawyer has in-depth knowledge of the laws and regulations relevant to family green card petitions. They can navigate the intricacies of the process, anticipate potential challenges, and address them proactively.
  3. Timely Submission and Follow-up: A lawyer will ensure that your application is submitted in a timely manner and will follow up with immigration authorities to track its progress. They can respond promptly to any requests for additional information or documentation, avoiding unnecessary delays.
  4. Expedited Processing Requests: In some cases, certain urgent circumstances may allow for expedited processing of a family green card application. An experienced lawyer can identify situations where expedited processing may be appropriate and can submit the necessary requests to immigration authorities on your behalf.
  5. Navigating Complex Situations: If your family green card application involves unique or complex circumstances, such as prior visa denials, criminal history, or other legal issues, a lawyer can develop strategies to address these complexities and expedite the resolution.
  6. Communication with Government Agencies: Immigration lawyers have established relationships with government agencies and officials. They can communicate with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and other authorities more effectively, ensuring that your application receives the attention it deserves.
  7. Appeals and Challenging Decisions: In case of a denial or delays, a lawyer can assist you with appeals or challenging decisions, if applicable. They can navigate the appeal process, increasing the likelihood of a successful resolution.

Is there a faster way to get a green card for a family member?

There are various ways to expedite the process of obtaining a green card for a family member in certain circumstances. While there is no guarantee of a faster processing time, the following options may help expedite the green card application.

Immediate Relative Category: The immediate relative category allows U.S. citizens to sponsor their immediate family members, including spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21. Immediate relatives are not subject to annual numerical limitations, which means that visa numbers are always available for them. As a result, the processing time for immediate relative green card applications is generally faster compared to family preference categories.

Expedite Requests: In urgent situations, individuals can submit an expedite request with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Expedite requests are considered for specific circumstances, such as severe medical conditions, humanitarian reasons, or cases where a delay would cause significant financial loss. Approval of an expedite request is at the discretion of USCIS, and supporting evidence must be provided to demonstrate the urgency.

The expedited processing of green card applications is subject to specific eligibility criteria, and not all cases will qualify for faster processing. The processing time may vary based on various factors. An experienced immigration attorney at our law firm can help you determine the most efficient path to obtain a green card for a fiancé, spouse, or another family member.

How long does it take to get a family-based green card in the United States?

The processing time for a family-based green card can vary based on factors such as the applicant’s relationship to the sponsor, their country of origin, the visa category, and the backlog of applications. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, such as spouses and parents, may have shorter waiting times due to visa number availability. Family preference immigrants may experience longer waiting periods due to annual numerical limitations.

Can I bring my siblings to the United States through family immigration?

U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old can sponsor their siblings for family-based immigration. Sibling sponsorship falls under the family preference category, which means that the waiting time for a visa number to become available is much longer compared to immediate relative visas. The backlog and processing times vary depending on the applicant’s country of origin and the demand for visas in that category.

Can I work in the United States while my family-based green card application is pending?

If you have filed Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and you are eligible for adjustment of status, you may be able to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, to obtain a work permit (employment authorization document – EAD). With the EAD, you can work in the United States while your green card application is being processed.

FAQ: Can I appeal if my family-based green card application is denied?

If your family-based green card application is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. The denial notice will specify the reasons for the denial and instructions on how to file an appeal, usually through Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion. It is crucial to seek the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney to handle the appeal process and present a strong case to challenge the denial.