Portland Family Immigration Lawyer

Family Immigration

Family immigration is the primary basis for legal immigration to the United States. Under current immigration law, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents have the right to petition for certain family members for permanent status, also known as a “green card.”  Today, more than half a million green cards are issued per year based on familial relationships. After the immigrant is issued a green card and successfully obtains legal permanent status, they then take part of certain privileges such as lawful work authority in the U.S., the option to travel in and out of the country at ease, health and financial benefits, and most importantly are united with their loved ones.

Immigrating to the U.S. through a relative often is faster and more efficient than other options, such as through a business or humanitarian program- as of now over eighty-percent of green cards issued per year are issued through a family petition.  However, only certain types of close family members are able to actually petition for others. If you are a legal permanent resident you have the option to petition for your immediate family relatives, such as your spouse or any children under the age of 21 or unmarried adult sons or daughters. However, if you are a U.S. Citizen you can petition for your spouse, fiancée, parents, children, adult sons and daughters and even your siblings. It’s important to keep in mind that each relative with a different family relationship to you falls under a different preference category with different estimated waiting periods.

To petition for a family member, whether you are a U.S. citizen or a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR), you will need to meet certain requirements and provide necessary documentation to successfully petition for your loved ones. Part of the requirements entail demonstrating you are a USC or LPR with good moral character, have the financial means to economically support your family member, and have sufficient evidence to prove your relationship with the beneficiary.

As a country formed of immigrants, the United States has established a variety of pathways towards legal status for immigrants and their family members. To learn more about what options are available for your relatives living in the U.S. or abroad, click below:

Family Immigration in the United States

Family immigration into the United States is a petition-based system. This means that someone who is already in the U.S. is able to vouch for family members. There are, though, some requirements for those looking for petitions on behalf of their family members. The first of these requirements is that they must have proper standing within the United States. There are three kinds of people who would be eligible to petition for their family members:

  • Someone who is a citizen by birth
  • Someone who has acquired citizenship through naturalization
  • A person who is a lawful permanent resident of the United States or a green card holder

Another requirement of the petition is that they must be able to demonstrate the relationships that they have with the individual whom they are petitioning to bring into the country. This is typically done through some form of documentation. Depending on where they are emigrating from, this documentation can sometimes be difficult to acquire. It is, though, something that immigration officials take very seriously to protect against fraud. If you believe that you may have trouble providing proper documentation, then speaking with an immigration lawyer may help guide you on how to handle the situation.

Another important qualification is that the petitioner must be able to support the person that they are seeking to bring into the country. This means having enough income that the individual will be able to be supported at 125% or more above the poverty line. This is to make sure that they will have time to become financially stable in the country and not immediately need public services. The petitioner will need to have documentation that proves this level of income. It should also be noted that, for military members seeking to bring someone in, this threshold may be lower.

Immediate Relatives

The easiest form of family immigration is for immediate relatives of United States citizens. Immediate relatives of permanent residents are not considered eligible for this category of immigration. A significant reason for this is that there is no limit to the number of immigrants who may enter the country in a given year on the basis of this kind of sponsorship. That means this tends to be one of the quickest immigration approval processes, assuming that all the forms are properly filled out and ready to go. The kinds of familial relationships that are eligible for this form of immigration are:

  • Spouses of U.S. citizens
  • The unmarried children of U.S. citizens if they are under the age of 21
  • The parents of a U.S. citizen, as long as the sponsor is at least 21 years of age
  • An orphan who has either been adopted by a U.S. citizen abroad or will be adopted by a U.S. citizen once in the United States

Family Preference

Immediate relatives of permanent residents of the United States are not allowed entry in the first category of family immigration, as that was exclusive to U.S. citizen’s families. Those people, though, are allowed to apply for family preference visas. Additionally, family preference visas will also apply to some of the closer family members of U.S. citizens who didn’t fall into any of the qualifications for immediate relative visas. This kind of visa, though, is a little different, as it has limits for each of the four kinds of family preferences that are available. There can be significant backlogs for these situations because, once the annual cap for a given category is reached, no one else will be admitted until the next year. The four categories of family preference are:

  • First Preference
    • F1 – Unmarried children of U.S. citizens who are 21 and older
    • 23,400 annual visas issued
  • Second Preference
    • F2A – Spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 of a legal permanent resident
    • F2B – Unmarried children of a legal permanent resident who are 21 and older
    • 114,200 annual visas issued – the majority of these are awarded to spouses and children under 21
  • Third Preference
    • F3 – The married children and spouses of U.S. citizens
    • 23,400 annual visas issued
  • Fourth Preference
    • F4 – A U.S. citizen’s sibling who is over the age of 21 and their spouses and minor children if applicable
    • 65,000 annual visas issued

Military Members

If you are a member of the military and are looking to bring a spouse or children from overseas, then you could be eligible for expedited processes. For instance, children and spouses of military personnel could be eligible for expedited naturalization even while still overseas.


The fiancé of a U.S. citizen could be eligible for a special visa that will get them into the country for the marriage. It also applies to any children of the fiancé who are under 21. However, the marriage between the sponsor and the fiancé must occur within 90 days of their entering the country.

What an Immigration Lawyer Can Help With

When you want to be united with your family, you don’t want to take any unnecessary chances that could lead to a delay or rejection. That’s why it’s critical that you consider working with a family immigration lawyer like those at Passage Immigration Law. We understand the nuances of immigration law and the potential issues and difficulties that can arise throughout the process. When you work with us, you can at least feel comfortable knowing that you are following the procedure properly and have all the proper documentation. That doesn’t guarantee that there won’t be delays, but at least you know that they won’t be coming from your end.

Additionally, unexpected issues can arise, even in some of the most basic immigration circumstances. If you are already working with a lawyer, they can help get the case resolved more quickly because they are already familiar with your circumstances.  Some of the things that an immigration lawyer can help with include:

  • Determining Your Eligibility – Although these categories may seem straightforward, confusion can sometimes arise. This can especially be true if there is some kind of non-traditional family arrangement involved. Additionally, if there isn’t adequate paperwork demonstrating the nature of the relationship with the sponsor, this could affect eligibility.
  • Forms – Any immigration process involves a variety of forms and documentation. A successful application process depends on getting these forms correct. An error on the forms can lead to a rejection and difficult delays. When you work with us, we can assist with the preparation of the forms and ensure that you have the correct forms for your situation.
  • Documentation – Another significant component of an application is documentation. It’s essential that you have the documentation that is appropriate for your situation. This can be an especially difficult part of the immigration process because of the variations that documents can have in different countries. This is where the experience of an immigration lawyer can be so valuable. We understand why the immigration officials are looking for the documents that they require. If that particular document isn’t available, we can advise you regarding alternatives that may be viable options if they convey the same information. We might also help suggest some other documents that could help bolster your case.
  • Anticipate Potential Issues – There are inevitably a myriad of issues that can and do come up during immigration proceedings. One of the benefits of working with an immigration lawyer is that we can call on our experience to help us foresee some of the potential issues that could arise with your case. By recognizing some of the potential problems ahead of time, we may be able to take steps to avoid them or at least mitigate any potential delays that they may cause.
  • Working With Immigration Officials – As lawyers, we can act as a representative for you with the relevant agencies, such as the National Visa Center and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. We can get in contact with them quickly and even visit offices as necessary. This can be particularly helpful in situations where parties outside of the country may have difficulty reaching these institutions.
  • Advocacy – If you’re experiencing some of the inevitable challenges, delays, and outright denials that can come up in the immigration process, then a lawyer can advocate on your behalf. We can file necessary briefs, submit documents and arguments in your favor, and even represent you in immigration court if that becomes necessary.
  • Appeals – We can try everything that we can to get a favorable immigration outcome, including submitting all the proper forms and documentation, doing what we can to work with the appropriate officials, and advocating for you where necessary and possible. Despite these efforts, there are times when there will still be a rejection. In those cases, though, we can represent you and appeal on your behalf.
  • Alternatives – If your first application and its appeal fail, one positive of the immigration system in the United States is that there are many potential alternatives. When you work with the team at Passage Immigration Law, we can use our knowledge and experience to look at possible alternatives if the family immigration process isn’t producing a favorable outcome. In particular, the delays for family preference visas can sometimes be excessive. In these cases, we may be able to help seek a V visa, which allows the spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents to live in the United States while waiting for an F2 visa to become available.

What to Look for in a Family Immigration Lawyer

At Passage Immigration Law, we understand how serious a decision it is when you choose what lawyer or law firm you are going to work with regarding your immigration situation. The outcome of the process will profoundly affect people’s lives. If things work right, then everyone will be together, building a life in the United States of America. If something about the process goes wrong, then families are left to face hard choices, as they would have to continue to spend time apart or abandon a future in the U.S.

Given what’s at stake, the decision of who you choose to advise you, assist you, advocate for you, and represent you is incredibly consequential. You want to be sure that you are comfortable with the choice that you are making. In general, there are a few characteristics that you want to keep in mind when considering a family immigration lawyer:

  • Knowledgeable – Immigration law is incredibly unique, and it can be beneficial to work with someone who has made it the focus of their practice.
  • Experienced – Particularly for immigration cases, experience is critical. There are so many different kinds of issues that can arise, and finding the right solution isn’t always something that can be found in a book or read about. Sometimes, those who have handled something similar before are the only ones who can quickly find a solution.
  • Trustworthy – More than anything else, it’s important that you feel comfortable working with the lawyer. You are allowing them to take on a significant responsibility, and they need to be someone whom you trust. Make sure that you feel like you are happy to have your lawyer represent you.

Let Us Help Unite Your Family in the United States

There’s nothing harder for families than being apart. The pain of the situation can be made all the more real and significant when the separation includes a border. For many, the choice to come to the United States is part of pursuing a better life, but that can mean leaving some family behind for a period of time. One of the most rewarding things we can do at Passage Immigration Law is help reunite these families. We understand how important it is for you to bring your loved ones along in your quest for prosperity. We can help with whatever situation you are dealing with. Our hope is that we can bring your family back together. Contact us today to discuss your family immigration situation.


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