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This article explores how to petition for family members to receive their lawful permanent residence status, or more informally known as “green card.”

Immigration Visas: Family Based Petitions

This article explores how to petition for family members to receive their lawful permanent residence status, or more informally known as “green card.” We explore who can Petition for whom, how long it may take based who is Petitioning and what type of relationship they have to the applicant, and we explain why it is important to have a competent immigration attorney to assist you in the process.

Petitioning for a family member: The Basics

U.S. immigration law allows for both lawful permanent residents and U.S. citizens to petition for immediate family members (spouse, child, parent, and sibling) to come to the U.S. to live permanently. However, it is important to consider who the Petitioner is as lawful permanent residents cannot sponsor all types of family members. If you are a U.S. citizen you are able to petition for your spouse (including a same sex spouse), your parents, your married or unmarried children, and your siblings.  

The age and marital status of your children are important factors in the immigration process. For immigration purposes, a “child” is an unmarried person under 21 years of age. A “son” or “daughter” is a person who is married or is 21 years of age or older. For U.S. citizens petitioning for their unmarried children under age 21, their parents, or their spouse, green cards are “immediately” available. This means that the U.S. Citizen can file the I-130 Petition for an Alien Relative simultaneously with the I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status so long as they are in the United States and have been lawfully admitted.  This is helpful because it allows for the immigrant to remain in the US while their application is pending and cuts the wait time down. It also gives the Applicant the ability to apply for a work permit concurrently with the other documents. There is still a wait time associated with this process, but it is relatively short compared to some other categories of immigrants.  

If you are a U.S. citizen trying to petition for your children under 21, but who are married, or who are simply over 21, it will be a two-step process with the Petitioner having to first file a I-130 Petition and wait for that to be approved before filing the I-485 and I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization). Please note that USCIS divides the preference category of whether your child is married or unmarried, which affects visa availability. Another factor that matters is what country the incoming immigrant is from. If they are from China, Mexico, India, or the Philippines, they will be looking at a considerable wait time.  If you are petitioning for your unmarried child that is a first preference family visa. According to the Feb. 2022 visa bulletin (check The Visa Bulletin (state.gov) for the most up to date bulletin), the I-130 priority date (date your I-130 indicates it was approved) is as follows for U.S. citizens petitioning for their unmarried children over age 21.  

Dates For Filing Family-sponsored visa Applications For Unmarried Sons And Daughters (Over Age 21) Of Uscs Feb 2022

Family- Sponsored  : F1

All Chargeability  Areas Except Those Listed : 15MAY16

CHINA- mainland  born :15MAY16

INDIA :15MAY16

MEXICO :01FEB01

PHILIPPINES : 22APR15

As the visa bulletin indicates, it is a considerable wait time. This process does not advance in step with real-time, meaning that months could pass and the priority date may not move, and may even go backward. F

Even after the immigrant is able to submit their documents to the National Visa Center, there may not be a visa available for a significant amount of time. See the below chart for Final Action Dates for Feb. 2022.  

Final Action Date For UNMARRIED SONS AND DAUGHTERS (OVER AGE 21) OF Uscs FOR February 2022

Family- Sponsored  : F1

All Chargeability  Areas Except Those Listed : 01DEC14

CHINA-mainland  born : 01DEC14

INDIA : 01DEC14

MEXICO : 08SEP99

PHILIPPINES : 01MAR12

For those applying for their married children, the wait time is even longer. The preference category for U.S. citizens applying for their married children is F3.  

Dates For Filing Family-sponsored visa Applications For Married Children Of Uscs For Feb 2022

Family- Sponsored  : F3

All Chargeability  Areas Except Those Listed : 22AUG09

CHINA-mainland born : 22AUG09

INDIA : 22AUG09

MEXICO : 08OCT00

PHILIPPINES  : 01OCT03

The final action date for U.S. citizens applying for their married children is as follows:

Final Action Date for Married Children of Usc for February 2022

Family-
Sponsored  : F3

All Chargeability  Areas Except Those Listed : 22NOV08

CHINA-mainland born : 22NOV08

INDIA : 22NOV08

MEXICO : 15SEP97

PHILIPPINES  : 08JUN02

If you are a U.S. citizen applying for your siblings, you will also need to file the I-130 first and wait for that to be approved before filing the I-485 and I-765. Siblings are considered F4 preference and represent the category with the longest wait times. If you are looking to petition for your sibling, you are looking at a minimum of fifteen years and more realistically twenty years or more if you are not from one of the four oversubscribed countries.

Dates For Filing Family-sponsored visa Applications For Siblings Of Uscs For Feb 2022

Family- Sponsored  : F4

All Chargeability  Areas Except Those Listed : 01OCT07

CHINA-mainland born : 01OCT07

INDIA : 01JAN06

MEXICO : 22AUG99

PHILIPPINES  : 01FEB04

Final Action Dates For Family-sponsored visa Applications For Siblings Of Uscs For Feb 2022

Family- Sponsored : F4

All Chargeability  Areas Except Those Listed : 22MAR07

CHINA-mainland  born : 22MAR07

INDIA : 15SEP05

MEXICO : 22APR99

PHILIPPINES  : 22AUG02

If you are a lawful permanent resident, you can petition for your spouse and your unmarried children under 21 or your unmarried sons and daughters. You are not able to petition for your parents or your married children.  

If you are a lawful permanent resident and are petitioning for your spouse and/or unmarried child/ren under 21, your category is F2A the date for filing for February 2022 is currently as follows:

Dates For Filing Family-sponsored visa Applications For Lpr Spouse And/Or Unmarried Child Under 21 For Feb 2022

Family- Sponsored  : F2A

All Chargeability  Areas Except Those Listed : 01OCT21

CHINA- mainland  born : 01OCT21

INDIA : 01OCT21

MEXICO : 01OCT21

PHILIPPINES  : 01OCT21

The final action date for lawful permanent resident who are petitioning for their spouse and/or unmarried child/ren under 21 is current.

For lawful permanent residents who are petitioning for their unmarried sons or daughters over 21 (this is known as category F2B) the filing date is as follows:

Dates For Filing Family-sponsored visa Applications For Lpr Filing For Unmarried Son Or Daughter (Over Age 21) For Feb 2022

Family- Sponsored  : F2B

All Chargeability  Areas Except Those Listed : 22SEP16

CHINA- mainland  born : 22SEP16

INDIA : 22SEP16

MEXICO : 01MAR01

PHILIPPINES  : 01OCT13

The final action date adds further wait times for LPRs filing for their unmarried sons or daughters over age 21:

Final Action Dates For Family-sponsored visa Applications For Lpr Filing For Unmarried Son Or Daughter (Over Age 21) For Feb 2022

Family- Sponsored     : F2B          

All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed     : 22SEP15

CHINA- mainland born   : 22SEP15

INDIA  :   22SEP15

 MEXICO    :  01SEP00

 PHILIPPINES  : 22OCT11

                                                                                                           

Knowing the wait time can help all parties to manage their expectations and consider if they want to pursue filing if the wait time is extremely long. There is not a option to premium process or accelerate the wait time at all unless Congress authorizes a greater number of family sponsored visas to be available.

What is the wait time for those who have an immigrant visa immediately available?

It depends on the immigration service center and field office (which are based on the location of the Petitioner). You can review the average wait times for Adjustment of Status by going to Processing Times (uscis.gov). It currently is averaging around 12-24 months to get to the interview stage if you are petitioning for a spouse. During the processing time, you will have biometrics, and if you submitted your I-765 Work Authorization or I-131 Advance Parole travel documents, depending on your service center, could take between 5-13 months. The processing time that is listed on USCIS’ website provides the date that you can inquire about your application if you have not heard anything and gives an average wait time. Sometimes these wait times are much longer than people actually have to wait, but sometimes not.

Importance of the intending immigrant being admissible

Many people are surprised to learn that their spouse or child is not able to be Petitioned for through the normal process (i.e. they require a waiver) if they did not enter the U.S. with permission. Another important factor that some people overlook is that foreign marriages are valid in the US, thus if a person was married in the US and never got a divorce, but are trying to Petition for or be Petitioned as a spouse, the marriage between the Petitioner and intending immigrant is invalid and no immigrant visa will be able to be granted.  

Importance of an Immigration Attorney

The paperwork for filing for a family member often requires a lot of supporting evidence and needs to be well-organized in order for USCIS to determine the application should be approved. An immigration attorney helps you determine whether or not you able to Petition for a relative based on whether you are a US citizen or green card holder and who you are trying to Petition for. Your attorney will help you understand the wait time for the category of the applicant. Your attorney knows how to handle payment to USC and if you are filing on paper, which USC service center to send your documents. They will inform you what documents to gather and will review and organize what you provide. They will make sure there aren’t any admissibility issues with the intending immigrant. Consider hiring O’Flaherty Law to help you with your family-based immigration needs.

Posted 
June 9, 2022
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