Immediate Relative Visas in D.C.

Immediate relatives are spouses of United States citizens, unmarried children under the age of 21, including adopted children, and parents of United States citizens who are at least 21-years-old.  An immediate relative applies for permanent resident status in two different ways depending on whether that immediate relative is located within or outside of the United States. The process can be complicated, but an experienced family immigration lawyer can guide you through it. Contact an attorney today and know that you are in good hands.

Filing For a Visa if the Relative Lives Inside of the U.S.

Procuring immediate relative visas in D.C. is not without its fair share of paperwork. If the intending immigrant who is an immediate relative is present in the United States, then the U.S. citizen files Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, and the intending immigrant can file concurrently Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). 

There are a few caveats to filing the concurrent one-step applications. First, the intending immigrant must have been inspected and admitted or inspected and paroled into the United States. Second, the intending immigrant must be physically present in the United States at the time of filing.  Third, the family relationship must exist at the time of filing.  For instance, if the U.S. citizen is applying for a spouse, the couple must be legally married at the time of filing. And, lastly, the intending immigrant must not have any bars to adjustment, such as previous violations of immigration and criminal laws.  

It is worth noting, that some of these inadmissibility issues can be waived depending on individual circumstances by filing Form I-601, Application for a Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility with the I-485 Application.  Once the I-130 and I-485 one-step is filed then the petitioner and beneficiary should await an interview or approval of the I-130 and I-485 by mail. Whether an interview is required will depend on the type of relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary, usually, spouses are interviewed (although not always) whereas an adult U.S. citizen petitioning for his or her mother may not. There is also the possibility that even in a relationship between an adult child petitioner and mother beneficiary that the local USCIS field office will require an interview. 

Filing For a Visa if the Relative Lives Outside of the U.S.

If the intending immigrant who is an immediate relative is outside of the United States then the process begins in the same manner, the petitioner, the U.S. citizen, files Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative with USCIS. Thereafter, if the intending immigrant is overseas they must wait for USCIS to approve the I-130 before the process continues to the next step.  However, if the intending immigrant is a spouse of a U.S. citizen, the couple can apply for a K-3 Visa while the I-130 is pending to have the intending immigrant enter the U.S. as a K-3 and then proceed to file an I-485 once in the United States.

If the intending immigrant remains abroad, the next step is for USCIS to contact the National Visa Center (NVC) and inform the agency that the I-130 has been approved.  NVC then contacts the petitioner and the intending immigrant with instructions on submitting documents, the payment of fees, and submission of the immigrant visa application, the DS-260. Once the documents, fees, and applications have been filed with NVC, the agency holds the visa packet until an interview can be scheduled at a United States embassy or consulate in the country, or the nearest country, where the intending immigrant is present. 

Interview With a Consular Officer

The intending immigrant is then interviewed by a consular officer.  After the interview, the intending immigrant must wait until a decision is made.  How long they must wait is contingent on whether the appropriate background checks have been completed and variations in embassy or consulate processing. Once the immigrant visa is approved, the intending immigrant will receive their passport with the U.S. visa, as well as a sealed packet containing the intending immigrant’s supporting evidence.  Only an immigration officer must open this packet.  It will be opened once the immigrant enters the United States.  

Entering the United States as a Permanent Resident

After receiving the passport with the visa, but before departing for the United States, the intending immigrant must pay the USCIS immigrant fee that will be used to produce the physical permanent resident card (Green Card). Once the fee is paid, the intending immigrant may travel to the United States with the passport and the sealed documents. 

The immigrant must enter the United States before the expiration date printed on the visa, usually six months after the interview date. The intending immigrant becomes a permanent resident only when they enter the United States. Until that time, the intending immigrant only has an immigrant visa and not lawful permanent resident status. After the immigrant is admitted to the United States then they will receive their Green Card at the U.S. address provided during the immigrant visa interview. 

Working With an Immigration Lawyer

Applying for immediate relative visas in D.C. can be a complicated process. You have to complete large amounts of paperwork, and jump various hurdles in the pursuit of a visa for your relatives. A compassionate attorney can be an invaluable asset during this process. Contact a qualified and compassionate lawyer who can guide you, and work towards a positive outcome for you and your family. 

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