Family Immigration Lawyers in Houston Keeping Families Together
Being apart from your family can be hard, especially if you are separated by thousands of miles and in different countries. If you are currently in the United States and you want to help your family join you, family-based immigration may be a solution. Immigration laws governing this process are very specific, so it’s important to work with a family immigration law firm.
Talk to a family immigration lawyer about your options and whether you may be able to sponsor a family member — or have them sponsor you. The Law Office of Shelle-Ann Simon, PLLC has an experienced team of immigration attorneys who have a proven track record of leading clients to success.
Can I Get an Immigrant Visa If I Marry a Citizen?
Many people believe that marrying a U.S. citizen is an easy and automatic way to get a Green Card, but that’s not accurate. Marrying a citizen does not give you automatic status or mean that your application for a Green Card or fiance immigrant visa will be approved. All it does is give you, as a foreign national, a specific way to apply for permanent resident status.
Can Same-Sex Couples Get a Marriage Visa?
Yes, it’s possible to apply for a fiance visa or permanent resident status if you are married, even if it’s a same-sex relationship. Same-sex marriages and relationships are treated the exact same way as opposite-sex relationships in the United States, and this is true even if same-sex marriage is not legal or approved in your home country. You can follow the same steps to apply for a fiance visa or a Green Card.
What Happens If We Get a Divorce?
If you have permanent residence status in the United States because you married a citizen and then get a divorce, it can have an effect on your immigration status. If you have a conditional green card, it’s expected that you and your spouse will file a joint petition to remove the conditions after your waiting period. If you aren’t still married at this time, that’s not going to happen. However, there are ways around this, so it’s important to talk to an immigration attorney about your options. If you have a permanent Green Card, a divorce won’t affect your status.
Can I Sponsor My Family Members?
It is possible to sponsor a family member for immigration to the United States on a family-based immigration visa. However, there are restrictions on who can sponsor relatives and what relationships qualify. There are three categories of people who can sponsor a relative: those with citizenship status, lawful permanent residents, and refugees or asylees. Below you can find more details on how each one works.
U.S. citizens, including naturalized citizens, are able to sponsor immediate relatives for an immigrant visa. This includes a fiance or spouse, as well as the sponsor’s children, parents, and siblings.
Lawful Permanent Resident
A lawful permanent resident faces more restrictions on which family members can be sponsored. Green Card holders may only sponsor their spouse or their unmarried child.
Refugee or Asylee
While it’s not the same process as a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, it is possible for refugees and asylees to petition for their family members to come to the United States under the family reunification program. The family member must be a spouse, parent, or child who is less than 21 years old and is unmarried. The family member must also meet the requirements for refugee or asylee status themselves.
How Do You Apply for Family-Based Immigration?
The family immigration process starts with making sure that the person who is sponsoring the family member is eligible to do so. You must be at least 21 years old and have either U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status. Next, you’ll need to determine which immigration option you want to pursue:
- Immediate relative visas: Immediate relative visas are for — as the name suggests — immediate, direct relatives of the sponsor. There is no limit to the number of people who can come to the United States on immediate relative visas each year.
- Family preference visas: Family preference visas are available for more distant relatives, but there is a cap on how many of these will be accepted each year.
If you’re not sure which option is the right choice for your situation, schedule an appointment with an immigration attorney. They can help you understand the pros and cons of each and what the process entails.
What Questions Should I Ask a Family Immigration Lawyer?
Going through the immigration process can be daunting. There is a lot of paperwork and hoops to jump through, and it can take months for a petition to be processed. This is why it’s important to work with a family-based immigration lawyer. Here are some questions to ask at your first appointment:
- Am I eligible to sponsor a family member?
- Is there anything that might exclude my family member from being admissible to the United States?
- Will they be able to apply for permanent residence later on?
- How long will their visa be good for?
- Will they be able to work and attend school while in the country?
- What are some common issues that come up in family immigration?
Family-based immigration can help you keep your loved ones close, but it’s important to ensure you follow the rules and procedures exactly. And that’s why you need a family immigration law firm like the Law Office of Shelle-Ann Simon, PLLC to lead the way. Call 281-606-0800 to get started today.