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Chicago Family Immigration Attorney

Do you have family members who are living abroad? Let a Chicago family immigration attorney at Freedom Immigration help make your dream of bringing your loved ones to the United States a reality.

Whether you are seeking to reunite with an immediate relative, like your foreign-born spouse, minor children, or parents, or you want to bring other members of your family, like your adult unmarried children or siblings to the United States, a family visa lawyer at our law firm can help. Our team will check family member eligibility, help you gather documentation and submit your application, and even help you prepare for the green card interviews.

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Contact a family visa lawyer at Freedom Immigration for a free consultation. Call (224) 588-3536

Table of Contents :

What Is Family-Based Immigration?

Family-based immigration is one of the most popular ways foreign nationals obtain permanent resident status and get their green cards in the United States. In fact, approximately two-thirds of the 1+ million green cards that are issued each year are provided to people who applied for family visas. Through the program, U.S. citizens can petition to bring their family members from other countries to establish permanent residence, enabling them to live and work in the United States. In some cases, green card holders (permanent residents) can bring certain family members to our country as well. 

Who May Be Eligible for a Family-Based Green Card?

You may be eligible for a family-based green card if you are:

  • A foreign-born spouse who is married to a U.S. citizen
  • An unmarried child of a U.S. citizen, and you’re under 21
  • An orphan who was adopted abroad, or who will be adopted in the United States by a U.S. citizen
  • A parent of a U.S. citizen and you’re at least 21
  • The unmarried child of a U.S. citizen and you are over 21 (limited to 23,400 per year)
  • The married child of a U.S. citizen (limited to 23,400 annually)
  • A sibling of a U.S. citizen (limited to 65,000 per year)

Family members of lawful permanent residents may be eligible for family visas as well. If you are the spouse of a green card holder, or you are the permanent resident’s minor child or an unmarried child who is over 21, you may also be eligible. However, visas are not automatically available, and a limited number of visas are available. 

Applying for a Family-Based Green Card

If you are the United States citizen or green card holder who plans to sponsor your relative(s), the family-based green card application process starts with you. As the petitioner, you will need to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form starts the immigration process and establishes your family relationship within the preference categories. Although filing the form may seem straightforward, USCIS rejects over 67,000 I-130 petitions each year, and more than 75,000 get denied. Rejections and denials can cost you a lot of money. More importantly, they cost you valuable time with your family member(s). Our family visa lawyers can help you navigate through the immigration process, reducing your chances of getting rejected or denied. 

Once your petition is submitted, USCIS will review your eligibility as a sponsor, and your family member’s eligibility as the beneficiary. If all criteria are met, your family member will need to apply for adjustment of status if he or she is already living in the United States, or go through consular processing if your loved one lives abroad or is not eligible for adjustment of status. 

Eligibility for Family-Based Green Card Sponsorship

Just because you are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident does not mean you are eligible to sponsor your family member. You must meet other criteria as well. You must demonstrate that you have a close and qualifying family relationship with the beneficiary. Your principal residence must be in the United States. Finally, you must be able to show that you are capable of supporting your family member(s) financially. The minimum income requirement to sponsor a member of your family is 125% of Federal Poverty Guidelines for your household size. 

Applying for Adjustment of Status to Get Your Green Card

Family members who live in the United States will need to apply for adjustment of status to obtain a green card. To do this, you will need to file Form I-485 and all required documentation. Applicants who are classified as immediate relatives can file Form I-130 and I-485 concurrently. To get your green card, you will also need to attend your biometrics appointment and pass your adjustment of status interview. If you are approved for lawful permanent resident status, you will receive your green card in the mail shortly after your interview. Adjustment of status usually takes longer than consular processing, but it allows your family to stay together in the United States while the application is processing. Out of more than 600,000 I-485 applications that are submitted annually, nearly 67,000 are rejected, and over 64,000 get denied. If your I-485 was rejected or denied, our family visa attorneys can help you appeal.

Obtaining a Family-Based Green Card Through Consular Processing

Consular processing is the most commonly used path to getting a family-based green card. It is the only option for family members who live abroad and those who do not qualify for adjustment of status. After the I-130 petition is approved, the National Visa Center will notify you when a visa is about to become available, and invite you to submit the visa application, additional documents, and processing fees. Your beneficiary and any members of your family who will be immigrating with the beneficiary will need to complete Form DS-260, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration. The petitioner will also need to submit Form I-864, Affidavit of Support and supporting documentation at this time. Next, you will need to get a medical exam and the required vaccinations, and attend an immigrant visa interview. If you are approved, you will receive an immigrant visa packet that will allow you to travel to the U.S. 

Arriving in the United States After Consular Processing

If you were living abroad and used consular processing, your immigrant visa packet means that you have been given status as a permanent resident. Upon arriving in the U.S., you must report to the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry. The officer will inspect your visa packet, and if approved, you will be granted entry as a permanent resident of the United States. USCIS will mail your green card to you within approximately 45 days. 

Becoming a United States Citizen

As a permanent resident (green card holder) you may soon be eligible to become a United States citizen through naturalization. If you have lived in the United States for at least five years (three years if you are married to a U.S. citizen), and you meet all other requirements, our Chicago naturalization lawyers can help you file Form N-400, help you prepare for your naturalization interview and tests, and guide you on the path to obtaining citizenship in the U.S. 

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What to Expect with Family Preference Green Card Petitions

Two major categories are used for family-based visas. They are immediate relative and family preference. The immediate relative category includes the spouse, unmarried children under 21, and parents of United States Citizens. Other qualifying relatives fall into family preference subcategories. Your family preference category is determined by the type of familial relationship you have with the petitioner. 

Since visas are unlimited for immediate relatives, they are available right away. Immigration law puts a limit on the number of family preference category visas, however. The demand for family preference visas exceeds the number of available visas, so there is a backlog. Waiting times have doubled over the last few years. Depending on your family preference category, you might wait months, or even years for a visa to become available. Your place in line is determined by your priority date, or the date your I-130 petition was accepted by USCIS. 

Petitioners and their immigration lawyers can monitor the monthly visa bulletin, published by the Department of State, to see when they have reached the front of the line. 

How Freedom Immigration Will Help with Your Family-Based Green Card

When you work with a family based green card lawyer at Freedom Immigration, our team will simplify the completion of your I-130 and additional forms that are required. We will help ensure all necessary documentation is included with your application, and we’ll help you avoid costly mistakes that can cause unnecessary delays, rejections, and denials. To get started, simply:

  • Contact our Chicago immigration attorneys for a consultation.
  • Our legal team will check your eligibility for sponsorship
  • We will make sure your family member is eligible for a family-based green card
  • We’ll help you prepare the proper forms and documents
  • Your lawyer will be available to answer your questions and guide you and your family member on the journey to becoming a permanent resident of the United States

At Freedom Immigration, our Chicago family immigration attorneys help bring families together in the United States. Contact our law firm today, and let us guide you on your family-based immigration journey.

FAQs About Family Immigration in the United States

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

In the last few years, immigration processing and wait times have increased significantly. Some people wait years for their applications to be approved and visas to become available. By filing forms concurrently, making sure applications are complete and required documentation is included, and ensuring there are no mistakes, an immigration lawyer may be able to help you get a green card more quickly. 

How long does it take for siblings to get a family-based green card?

Family preference visas for siblings and other family members are in high demand, and the wait time can be extensive. Since immigration law limits the number of visas that are available for each family preference category each year, some siblings must wait several years for a visa to come available. Your wait time is impacted by the type of family relationship you have with your sponsor, whether your sponsor is a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, your home country and where you’re applying from, whether additional information is needed, and the USCIS backlog. The average processing time for siblings of U.S. citizens is currently 14 to 16 years. If your home country is India, however, you can expect to wait over 16 years. For siblings who are coming from Mexico, a wait time of over 20 years can be expected. Siblings immigrating to the U.S. from the Philippines may wait 24+ years. 

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

Some paths to getting a green card are faster than others. While the annual green card lottery is the fastest way, your chances of winning are only about 4%. Additionally, you must be from a qualifying country and meet other eligibility requirements to qualify. Since there are no limits on visas for immediate family members of United States citizens, the wait time is fairly short if you qualify. If you don’t, however, other options may be available that can reduce the wait time for foreign-born family members. You may be able to get your green card faster by pursuing an employment-based, or corporate green card, for instance. Your family immigration lawyer can help you determine which path is best for you.

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The U.S. immigration system is multifaceted, encompassing a broad range of categories and subcategories for immigrants desiring to reside permanently in the United States.