F4 Visas – Family Based Green Card Lawyer
A family-based green card is a legal immigration document for lawful permanent residents (LPR). It uses an immediate relative who already has citizenship or permanent status to sponsor the immigrant.
An immigrant is any person who is not born in the United States. While many foreign residents are given temporary immigration status for school or work, the only way to stay permanently is with a green card that establishes legal immigration status. Family-based green cards are temporary and dependent on having an eligible family member to sponsor the immigrant.
Without taking steps to immigrate legally, foreign residents may risk deportation back to their home country. Additionally, they may lose the ability to work in the United States legally or receive government benefits.
There are two terms used to identify immigration documents. A visa is a temporary document that allows travel between your home country and the United States. A green card is either a temporary or permanent document that gives you the authorization to live and work in the United States.
Types of Family-Based Green Cards
There are two types of family-based green cards that are typically issued. Depending on the citizenship status of the sponsor and the familial relationship of the immigrant, different requirements apply. Family-based green cards are the best option for immigrants who want to stay in the United States to rejoin the family. Alternative options are available for those traveling for school or work.
Immediate Relative of a U.S. Citizen
Born or naturalized United States citizens may apply for a family-based green card for immediate relatives. This includes a spouse, child, or parent. There is no limit to the number of green cards that a U.S. citizen may sponsor.
Family Preference Visa for U.S. Citizens or LPR’s
Family preference visas are for more distant familial relationships, such as siblings, with a U.S. Citizen. This type of visa also grants sponsorship to some lawful permanent residents to sponsor a spouse or child.
Requirements for Family-Based Green Cards
The purpose of a family-based green card is to reunite families when a spouse, child, parent, or sibling is not a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. The immigrant must have no criminal records and must be able to prove a familial relationship with the sponsor.
The requirements vary based on the type of visa and familial relationship. In most cases, a marriage certificate or birth certificate is enough to prove a familial relationship.
How to Apply for a Family-based Green Card
The details vary slightly between the different types of visas, but the process is two steps. First, the sponsor will file a petition for his or her family member with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Once the petition is approved, the immigrant will apply for a green card with the U.S. Embassy or consulate in their home country.
Steps for the Sponsor to Begin the Green Card Process
- Fill out form I-130 and file with the Department of Homeland Security.
- Provide proof of your resident or citizenship status.
- Provide proof of familial relationships, such as a marriage or birth certificate.
- Include proof of any legal name changes.
- Pay fees required to process the petition.
The review process with the Department of Homeland Security will take a few months. The sponsor will receive a notice when he or she is approved or denied. In addition to the standard qualifications, some visa types have annual limits, and once those have been reached, no more visas of that type can be issued until the period ends.
Once the sponsor’s petition has been approved, the national visa processing center will notify both parties. From there, the U.S. Consulate in the immigrant’s current country will take the lead and schedule a review with the immigrant. If accepted, a temporary visa will be issued to allow travel to the United States.
If the immigrant is already living in the United States, he or she should file Form I-485 to change immigration status. It is possible to complete the paperwork and obtain your family-based green card without returning to your home country.
Steps for the Immigrant to Apply for a Green Card
- Wait for a notification from the National Visa Processing center.
- Schedule an appointment at the U.S. Consulate office in your country.
- You will be provided with a U.S. Visa packet. You will need to provide this to U.S. Customs when you travel.
- Pay Immigration Fees.
- Travel to the United States with your Visa Packet.
- Receive your Green Card in the mail at your United States address.
Waiting for the call from the Visa Processing Center can be difficult. Remember that unless your name or address has changed, you do not need to contact them. They will contact you when they receive your approved petition, and when they approve or deny your application. In addition to bureaucracy slowing the movement of paperwork in government offices, the number of visas processed every year for different immigration statuses is significant. It takes time to hear back.
What You Need to Know Before Filing for the F4 Visa
Depending on where you are in the world will determine which forms you need to file, documentation you need to submit, fees you need to pay and process you need to go through. It can be difficult to figure out everything you need to do and when you need to do, especially if you’ve never done it before. But AG Law has worked with hundreds of immigrants to get through the F4 visa process successfully and we want to do the same for you.
If you are currently in the United States, and want to apply for an F4 visa, here is an example of the kinds of things you need to know:
- How to properly file Form I-485–Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
- If you were inspected and admitted or inspected and paroled into the United States.
- If you are eligible to receive an immigrant visa.
- If the relationship to the family member who filed Form I-130–Petition for Alien Relative, for you still exists.
- If none of the applicable bars to adjustment of status apply to you.
- If you are admissible to the United States for lawful permanent residence or eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility or other form of relief.
This is not the entire list of things you need to know. And, if you’re not currently in the U.S., there are even more things to consider. We can help you find the answers to these questions and help you whether you’re in the U.S. or not. We’ve done this countless times and have helped many immigrants get their F4 visa. Contact us so we can assist you.
Supporting Documentation for the F4 Visa Application
Once AG Law has helped you verify that you’ve met all the eligibility requirements to apply for an F4 visa, we can also help you make sure you’ve collected all of the supporting documentation; there are up to 18 pieces of supporting documentation the USCIS needs for your F4 visa application! It is long and complicated. Some items may be hard to come by or you may not be sure how to get them. This is where AG Law can step in to help.
Family-based Green Card Lawyers
While you and your sponsor can navigate the process of legally immigrating to the United States, the process is lengthy and difficult. The stakes are very high, and if you fail, your application could be denied. Repeat applications are a red flag, so appealing a no decision is more difficult and can easily hurt your chance of coming to (or staying in) the United States.
A lawyer that specializes in immigration law has experience with these agencies and can help your family navigate the process without trouble. Legal representation will add to the cost of your green card, but it is a small price to pay for help navigating the United States immigration system.
Very few immigrants have a very straightforward case. It can feel like the immigration board is looking for any reason to deny an applicant. If there is any detail in your application that can be used to decline your application, a family-based green card lawyer can help.
A Law Firm with First-Hand Immigration Experiences
Figuring out the eligibility requirements and then ensuring you have all of the supporting documentation for your F4 visa application can be challenging. We’d be honored to assist you in any part of the process or the entire process. We offer an unbundled services option so you can hire us for just what you need. We know how important it is to have compassionate, knowledgeable immigration lawyers on your side because our founder, Aleksandra Gontaryuk, immigrated to the U.S. Having been through it, she has first-hand experiences with the U.S. immigration system and brings that knowledge into her practice. She is highly reputable and is admitted to the State of New Jersey Bar and the New Jersey District Court and is currently a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association, New Jersey Association for Justice and American Immigration Lawyers Association.