FAMILY BASED PETITIONS
Family Petitions (Marriage & Others)
Immigration through an Immediate Relative
As a foreign national, you may be qualified to apply for a U.S. green card through your parents, children, spouse, or siblings. Whether you can apply immediately or will have to wait depends upon the family relationship. Immediate relatives of US citizens include parents, spouses, and unmarried children under 21. Immediate relatives may file residency petitions without delay.
If the sponsor is a U.S. Citizen, they may petition for the following foreign national relatives to immigrate to the U.S:
• Husband or wife;
• Unmarried child under 21 years of age;
• Unmarried son or daughter over 21;
• Married son or daughter of any age;
• Brother or sister, if the sponsor is at least 21 years old, or;
• Parent, if the sponsor is at least 21 years old.
If the sponsor is a lawful permanent resident, they may petition for the following foreign national relatives to immigrate to the U.S:
• Husband or wife, or;
• Unmarried son or daughter of any age.
Other relatives, apart from "immediate relatives", must wait for an immigrant visa number to become available according to the following categories:
• First Preference: Unmarried, adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. Adult means 21 years of age or older.
• Second Preference: Spouses of lawful permanent residents, their unmarried children (under twenty-one), and the unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents.
• Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
• Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens. Wait times will vary according to the Visa Bulletin.
Our office represents individuals physically in the United States applying for permanent residence with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, as well as those who are abroad and applying for permanent residence at a U.S. consulate. We also represent applicants who are in removal proceedings before the Immigration Court, who are seeking to remain in the U.S. based on a family petition.
It is possible for the spouse of a Cuban national to apply for permanent residence under the Cuban Adjustment Act, if certain conditions are met.
Only immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, as well as spouses of Cuban nationals, have visas immediately available to them, in that there is no quota. This means that an immediate relative or spouse of a Cuban national can apply for permanent residence right away without having to "wait in line". All other categories of family-based immigrants must first file a petition, and then wait for the "priority date" to be reached before applying for permanent residence. This wait can be from 3 to 20 years, depending on the category and country of origin. The filing of a petition alone does not convey legal status to the beneficiary, so if the beneficiary is in the United States, he or she must maintain legal status independently of this process.
I-751 Removal of Conditions
If you obtain residence through marriage to a U.S. citizen, and at the time of receiving residence you have been married for less than 2 years, you will be granted conditional, not permanent, residence. The resident card will be valid for 2 years. During the 90 period prior to the expiration of the card, you must file a petition to remove the condition. The petition can be filed jointly with your spouse, or you may file it alone if it was a good faith marriage but it ended in divorce. There are also other special circumstances under which you can file the petition without your spouse. Our firm handles special petitions seeking a waiver based on hardship, abuse, or fear of persecution in one's home country.
Under the Cuban Adjustment Act, a citizen or national of Cuba may apply for permanent residence one year and one day after having been inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States. Additionally, if the Cuban national has a spouse or minor child residing with him or her, who has also been inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States, those family members may also apply under the Cuban Adjustment Act. There are also special provisions for those eligible under the Cuban Adjustment Act who have been subjected to physical or extreme mental abuse. We handle simple to complex cases, including those with criminal or prior removal history, or cases where the Cuban national has lost proof of entry, or proof of Cuban citizenship
Child Status Protection Act
This law was enacted in 2002 to protect minors against "aging out" when they turn 21, which under the prior law meant they would lose derivative benefits through their parents' applications. This law applies to family-based and employment-based applications for adjustment of status (lawful permanent residence), to asylum applicants, and to diversity visa lottery cases. Each CSPA claim is extremely fact-specific and must be carefully analyzed and calculated to determine whether the child can still obtain derivative benefits even after age 21.
Battered Spouses and Children (VAWA)
The Violence Against Women Act provides special protection for those applicants (male or female) who have been the victim of physical or extreme mental and psychological abuse by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent. This law allows victims to apply for permanent residence without requiring the assistance of the abuser. The proceedings are kept confidential, and the petitions are adjudicated by CIS officers who have received specialized training.
Each case is carefully screened to ensure that the marriage was in fact valid, and that there is no fraud in the petition. It is essential that the petitions contain as much documentary evidence as possible.
Cancellation under the Violence Against Woman Act: The applicant for VAWA cancellation must prove that he or she has been “battered or subjected to extreme cruelty” and meets other requirements, including three years of physical presence in the U.S and good moral character.