Family Reunification Visa: an Easy Route to Immigrate to the United States

Within the possibilities of emigrating to the United States, there is a relatively simpler route: the family reunification visa.

United States passport

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LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Visa de Reunificación Familiar: una ruta fácil para emigrar a Estados Unidos

The United States is one of the main destinations for Latin American emigrants. The northern country is presented as a land of promises, where everyone can fulfill their dreams and have a better quality of life than in their birth nations. Now, there are several visa possibilities to emigrate. However, not all of them apply to all people, and it depends on the reason for the trip, the stay, family ties, etc.

For example, there are employer-sponsored work visas; visas for religious work; visas for certain nationalities of persons who have cooperated with the United States; refugee visas; among others. But a legal and relatively simple path of migration is that of family reunification. This type of permit gives spouses, children, parents, and other family members the possibility of obtaining legal residence within the country. In order to apply for this type of permit, procedures must be carried out from the country of origin, mostly, and the documents vary depending on each case.

Who Can Apply for a Family Reunification Visa in the United States?

Not all people can opt for a family reunification visa to immigrate to the United States. The US government limits this permission to a certain consanguinity relationship. Only children, parents, spouses, fiancés, and siblings of US citizens can apply for this permit. Likewise, the spouses and unmarried children of permanent residents in the United States have the possibility of applying to this figure.

Can the Whole Family Emigrate?

Although the law allows the possibility of emigrating for several relatives, not all can do so. Or at least not all at the same time. Nationals and legal residents in Uncle Sam's country (those who have the famous green card) have an order of priority when requesting the residences of their relatives.

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The main priority is the children of US citizens under the age of 21 who are not married. In the second measure, the wife or husband of a permanent resident and unmarried children over 21 years of age. Then the married children of US citizens. Finally, in order of priority, are the siblings of US citizens.

What Types of Visa Can I request for Family Reunification?

The types of visas or forms that must be filled vary depending on the place from where you apply or for which case. Form I-130 is the base for everyone, but the visa category varies :

The married couple of a US citizen applies for IR1 and CR1; K3 is a visa for couples of US citizens who have not yet received residency; K-1 is for fiancés of US citizens to apply for another visa; IR3, IH3, IR4 and IH4 are for minors adopted by US citizens; IR2, CR2, IR5, F1, F3, F4 for relatives of citizens; F2A and F2B for relatives of legal residents.

How Is the Process?

The process is relatively simple. There are 10 steps and most are done digitally. But, it is important to clarify that it must be done jointly between the person who resides in the United States and the family member who wishes to emigrate.

Step 1: Register the visa petition. This step must be executed by the person with legal residence (national or resident). You must fill out Form I-30. It can be done online or at USCIS offices.

Step 2: After USCIS approves the application, it goes to the United States Visa Center (NVC). Both resident and family must create a case in the institution's system.

Step 3: After receiving the NVC case acceptance letter, both the resident and the family must pay the paperwork and submit an affidavit of financial support.

Step 4: The resident or national must fill out and submit form I-864, in which they are responsible for the expenses of the person they are “sponsoring”.

Step 5: Submit supporting documentation. After filling out the I-864 form, sufficient evidence must be provided that the sponsor can help the applicant financially.

Step 6: Now the applicant, after paying his or her procedures, can submit the DS-260 application.

Step 7: Likewise, the applicant must also send the necessary documentation translated into English (in case it is in another language). Among the documents that can be requested are: adoption certificates, birth certificates, marriage certificates, judicial records, etc., depending on the case.

Step 8: After collecting the necessary papers, the two people will have to send the scanned documents. It is important to ask the NVC if there is any physical document that they request.

Step 9: Preparation for the interview. It is relevant to have an appointment with a doctor approved by the US embassy, in case they ask for a medical certificate. Likewise, it is necessary to have all the documents prepared for when the appointment arrives at the consulate.

Step 10: For the face-to-face interview, you will have to bring the appointment confirmation letter, your passport, passport-type photos, the DS-260 confirmation and the documents sent, among others.

What Type of Union or Couple Can Apply?

According to the US government, only legally married couples can apply. People who only live together are not considered legally married couples. In the event that the country considers the union of this couple as marriage, a certificate must be brought. In case of polygamy and there are different husbands and wives, only the first marriage will be considered official.

From What Age Can I Sponsor my Partner?

Legally, there is no minimum age to start the procedures. However, US law only considers those over the age of 18 as legal residents.

What Happens If I Started the Procedures as a Resident, and Now I Am a Citizen?

If a resident citizen with a “green card” asks for his o her partner, and then he/she obtains nationality, the process can easily be reclassified. You only need a copy of the passport and the naturalization certificate.

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