What are the requirements for family reunification in the United States?

Citizens or permanent residents may be able to certain family members to immigrate permanently to the country. But how is this possible? Today we will see what are the requirements for family reunification in the United States and how a resident can give papers to their loved ones.

If you are looking to reunite with your loved ones, Urbina Immigration Law can help. Don’t risk your status and your family’s future by navigating the complex immigration system on your own. Talk to our lawyers and secure your future in the United States.

Resources and types of family visas

In the United States, there are several ways for people to reunite with their family members. However, the most common resources and family visas are:

  • Marriage Visa: Upon marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you may apply to file a petition for permanent residence based on family relationship by marriage. 
  • K1 Visa: This visa allows the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen to travel to the country to marry within 90 days. However, after this, the foreign spouse will obtain a provisional Green Card of two years duration, and must continue the immigration process by means of the removal of conditions.
  • I-130 family petition: Certain qualified family members (children, parents, spouses, etc.) may be able to initiate their family relationship permanent residence process through a Form I-130. Note, however, that qualifying family members vary depending on your immigration status (whether you are a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen).
  • I-730 Refugee or Asylee Relative Process: Also known as “follow-to-join,” this process allows the transfer of spouses and children of a citizen or permanent resident who have been recognized by the U.S. government as refugees or asylees, whether they are in or out of the country. For this process, you will need to follow the I-730 Refugee and Asylee Family Reunification Handbook by CLINIC.
  • Priority Direct Access Program (P3 category): This program allows persons of certain nationalities whose refugee or asylee status has been recognized to apply for the transfer of immediate family members (parents, spouse, children under 21 years of age). To do so, refugees in the country must submit an affidavit of relationship (AOR) for resettlement.
Marriage to a U.S. citizen or resident is a pathway to qualify for family reunification.
Marriage to a U.S. citizen or resident is a pathway to qualify for family reunification.

At Urbina Immigration Law, our attorneys can guide you through any of these difficult immigration processes. Don’t risk your family’s future by dealing with the system on your own. Contact us and get the legal help you need to reunite with your loved ones.

Kinship categories that qualify for family reunification

One of the requirements for family reunification in the United States is that the beneficiary must be within the qualifying relationship categories to apply for this immigration benefit. These can be summarized into two main categories:

  • Immediate Relative: This category provides an unlimited number of visas for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21 and parents).
  • Family preference: This category, on the other hand, annually allocates a limited number of visas for:
    • Other relatives of U.S. citizens (e.g., married children or siblings).
    • Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age of lawful permanent residents (Green Card sponsors).
You can petition for your children in the family reunification process.
You can petition for your children in the family reunification process.

At Urbina Immigration Law we can help you. Our attorneys will guide you through every step of the immigration process, ensuring that you qualify in the appropriate category for family reunification. Talk to an attorney today and secure the future of your loved ones.

Who qualifies for the family reunification process?

Being a relative of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident is one of the requirements for family reunification in the United States. In the following table you will find which family members you can choose based on your immigration status:

If it is…Then you can order for…
U.S. CitizenParents
Spouses
Unmarried sons and daughters under 21
Unmarried sons and daughters over 21
Married sons and daughters
Siblings
Permanent Resident Spouses
Unmarried sons and daughters under 21 years old
Unmarried sons and daughters over 21 years old

Requirements for family reunification in the United States

The requirements for family reunification in the United States vary depending on whether the petitioner is a U.S. citizen/resident or an alien beneficiary. The following is a table of requirements for both:

If it is…Then you must…
Petitioner U.S. citizen or permanent residentBe a citizen or legal permanent resident of the United States.
File Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of the relative.
Obtain USCIS approval for Form I-130.
Receive a written invitation to file Form I-134A.
Not having previously received an immigrant visa for the principal beneficiary.
Comply with the specific requirements according to the invitation process.
Foreign beneficiaryBe outside the United States at the time of application.
Be the principal or derivative beneficiary of an approved Form I-130.
Be a national of a country with a family reunification permit process.
Have a petitioning relative (U.S. citizen or permanent resident) who received the invitation to initiate the process.
Not having received an immigrant visa at the time of receiving the invitation.
Have a valid passport for international travel.
Perform a medical examination.
Obtain national security and public safety approval.
Demonstrate that it warrants a favorable exercise of discretion by DHS.

These requirements for family reunification in the United States can be difficult to understand, given the difference between petitioner and beneficiary. Therefore, it is extremely important to have an immigration attorney to guide you through the process. At Urbina Immigration Law we can help you. Contact us and take the first step towards reuniting with your loved ones.

What documents do I need to submit for my family reunification application?

Submitting the required documentation in a timely manner is another requirement for family reunification in the United States. Again, the documents to be submitted differ depending on your situation. In the following table you will find all the necessary documentation depending on your immigration status:

If it is…Then you must submit…
Petitioner U.S. citizen or permanent residentForm I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) duly completed and filed.
Supporting documents showing the family relationship to the beneficiary (e.g. birth certificates, marriage or adoption documents).
Proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent residency (passport, naturalization certificate, permanent resident card, among others).
Any specific documents required by USCIS in the invitation process, according to the application received.
Foreign beneficiaryValid passport.
Documents supporting the family relationship with the petitioner (e.g., marriage certificates, birth certificates, or other documents showing the family relationship).
Form I-134A if required as part of the invitation process.
Information and results of medical examinations (if necessary for the process).
Documents demonstrating the need or justification for receiving family reunification permission (at the discretion of DHS).
Any other specific documents required according to the invitation received for the family reunification process.

Any errors or lack of evidence can lead to complications for your application. Therefore, it is advisable to have the advice of an immigration attorney to help you gather, complete and submit the required documentation. Don’t risk the future of your loved ones by navigating the immigration system on your own. Contact our lawyers and let’s get your papers in order.

What is the process for sponsoring a family member in the United States?

The process for sponsoring a relative in the United States can be summarized in the following steps:

Step 1: Preparing and Filing Form I-130

The petitioner must complete and file Form I-130 with USCIS for each family member he/she wishes to sponsor. You may submit the form online or by regular mail, at your convenience.

Step 2: Determine the Process according to the Relative’s Location

If your relative is already in the United States, you must follow the adjustment of status process. On the other hand, for those family members living outside the country, the consular process must be followed.

It is advisable to seek the assistance of an immigration attorney for detailed information on each step of these immigration processes. Be sure to follow each step carefully to ensure smooth progress in the permanent residency application process for your family member.

Step 3: Keeping Informed and Complying with the Requirements

Stay updated on deadlines, requirements and any additional communications from either USCIS or the National Visa Center. Complying with each of the requirements for family reunification in the United States is crucial to ensure a successful application for permanent residency for your loved ones.

An attorney can help you through the family reunification process by keeping you updated on the status of your application.
An attorney can help you through the family reunification process by keeping you updated on the status of your application.

This process can be complex and overwhelming, and may vary depending on the situation of each migrant. For this reason, it is extremely important to have the help of an immigration attorney to guide and advise you. At Urbina Immigration Law we can help you. Tell us about your case and take the first step to reunite with your loved ones.

Which nationalities are eligible for the P3 program?

The nationalities eligible for the P3 program may change annually, affecting refugee eligibility. Therefore, it is important to consult with an immigration attorney for updated information.

When should a refugee or asylee relative petition (I-730) be filed?

An I-730 petition must be filed no more than two years after arrival in the United States or obtaining asylee status. However, this process can take years to be approved, so it is advisable to file your application as soon as possible.

How to check the progress of the case for refugees or primary family members?

The Refugee Support Center will notify the resettlement agency of the submission. The refugee and his or her family member should maintain contact. In addition, the status of the petition (I-730) can be checked on the USCIS website using the LIN number.

As we have seen, both a citizen and a resident can give papers to their family members through the family reunification process. However, this has its difficulties, and both the requirements and the necessary documentation vary from case to case.

For this reason, the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney is essential. It can help you get through the process and avoid mistakes that could lead to failure. Don’t risk your family’s future by dealing with the system on your own. Contact our professionals and take the first step towards reuniting with your loved ones.

Sources

UN Refugee Agency – Family Reunification in the United States

USCIS – Humanitarian Family Reunification Permit Processes

USCIS – I-730, Refugee/Asylee Family Member Petition

usa.gov – Applying for permanent residency or “Green Card” for a family member

Other resources

How to apply for American residency by family petition, step by step

Form I-130: Everything you need to know

Family Reunification Parole in the United States: A Complete Guide

Family reunification in the U.S.: At what age can a child petition for his or her parents?

Family sponsorship limits: How many family members can I bring to the United States?

Family sibling petition: what you need to know as a U.S. citizen

K1 fiancé visa: everything you need to know

K1 Visa Approved: Steps to follow and Recommendations

What proofs of marriage should I submit to USCIS?

Conditional residency by marriage: What happens if I divorce before permanent residency?

How to complete the removal of conditions process with Form I-751