An overview of family-sponsored immigration

By Atty. James G. Beirne

Let’s face it, family should stick together. It is a difficult situation however, if your loved ones are in another country. If you have a loved one that wants to live and work in the U.S., you may be able to sponsor them if you are a permanent resident or U.S. citizen.
Individuals that desire to come to the U.S. are classified into different categories, based on the type of relationship you have with your family member. If your loved one is an immediate relative, they do not have to wait for a visa number after their visa petition has been accepted by USCIS. This category is considered unlimited, which means that the U.S. does not have any restrictions on how many people can enter the U.S. within this category.

Depending on the relationship, other relative may need to wait for a visa number after their petition has been filed. They may fall into a category that is limited, meaning that the U.S. only assigns a certain quantity of visa numbers within this category each year.

So the question becomes, what category does your family member fall into?

Immediate relatives are spouses, widow or widower or unmarried children who are under 21 years of age, or a parent. Also if your loved one previously lived in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident but left the U.S. for one year of more, and now wishes to return.
The unlimited category is classified by preference. First family preference would include unmarried sons and daughters, and their children. The second family preference would include spouses, minor children and unmarried sons and daughters. The third preference includes married sons and daughters and their spouses and children. The fourth preference is brothers and sisters, and their spouses and children.

If you are hoping to sponsor a family member, it is important to be aware that you will also need to meet certain criteria. You must be a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S., and you must be able to prove that you are able to support your loved one at 125% above the poverty line.

The actual process requires you to submit paperwork to the USCIS, such as a Petition for Alien Relative. If the petition is accepted, it will be forwarded to the National Visa Center. The National Visa Center will inform your loved one when a number becomes available.

While this sounds fairly straight forward, applying for a family sponsored visa can be full of unexpected complications and technicalities. Also the amount of documentation and follow up required can be substantial. It is vitally important to have a qualified immigration lawyer from the Law Offices of James G. Beirne assist you. The wait times for obtaining a visa can be long, and will only be longer is your paperwork is rejected or there is an error in processing your documentation.

At the Law Offices of James G. Beirne, we have helped thousands of people solve their immigration issues, and we can help you too. We have three offices to serve you: Glendale (818) 552-4500, Cerritos (562) 865-4480 and West Covina (626) 262-4446.


An active member of the State Bar of California and the State Bar of Nevada, James G. Beirne is also a member of the highly respected American Immigration Lawyers Association and Los Angeles County Bar Association Immigration Section. He is admitted to practice before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, all federal district courts in California and Nevada, California state courts, and Nevada state courts. Mr. Beirne has represented clients in numerous immigration cases. His offices are located at 520 E. Wilson Ave., Suite 110, Glendale, CA 91206, and 17215 Studebaker Rd., Suite 380, Cerritos, CA 90703, with telephone numbers (818) 552-4500; (562) 865-4480; and (866) 903-4522. He also has offices at 2640 E. Garvey Ave., Suite 104, West Covina 91791, with tel. no. (626) 262-4446. His newest office is at Valencia Executive Plaza, Suite 200-E, 27201 Tourney Road, Valencia, CA 91355, tel. no. (661) 200-0644.

(Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. Results may vary depending on the facts of a particular case. We make no prediction, warranty or guarantee about the results of any case, nor do we assume any legal liability for the completeness of any information and its impact on the results of any case. Each case is different and results depend on the facts of each case. Consult with and retain counsel of your own choice if you need legal advice.)

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