DC Family Immigration Visa Process

When you or a loved one are applying for a family visa, it’s important to make sure that you make informed decisions throughout the process. One of the best ways to do this is to make sure that you secure the assistance of an experienced family visa attorney who understands the visa application process and can provide you with guidance throughout. Call our law offices today to learn more and to begin the application process.

First Steps to Filing

One thing that is important to understand in these cases is that if you are applying for family members that are outside of the United States, there are two parts of the process. One part of the process is filing a family petition, which is filed here in the United States. The second part of the process is submitting all of the applications online, sending in all of the physical documents, and coordinating an appointment through the National Visa Center at the consulate or embassy abroad. It can be a complicated process, and often the consulates or the embassies and the National Visa Center are non-responsive to applicants and the problems with their case. An immigration attorney can help facilitate communication with the National Visa Center or consulate and make this process a smoother one for families.

Filing Family Petitions

It is also very important to talk to an immigration attorney before you file a family petition for anybody who is present in the U.S., especially if they have an immigration history, have entered illegally, have ever been out of status in any way, or have any kind of criminal history. By submitting an application for someone who is here in the U.S, you are exposing that person and their criminal and immigration history to the government. You want to make sure that the person is eligible for some type of status and you are comfortable that they are not going to be put into removal proceedings after the petition is submitted. An immigration attorney can help you to determine whether or not it is safe to file the application and help you spot any issues that might come up down the road.

Non-Traditional Marriages

Another instance when you should definitely talk to an immigration attorney regarding a family visa application is if you have a non-traditional type of marriage and your application is marriage-based. If there is anything that might raise red flags for USCIS when they are determining whether you have a bona fide relationship, for example, if you are applying for your spouse and you met online, you haven’t spent too much time together, it is an arranged marriage, or there is a big age difference, those applications can be very heavily scrutinized. It is useful to have an immigration attorney help you with the application if any of these things apply to your relationship.

How Long Family Visas Take

It depends, the category of visa you are in determines the length of the process. If you are an immediate relative, then you just have to wait the amount of time that it takes for USCIS to adjudicate your application, which can take as few as five months. If you are in one of the family preference categories, then you need to check the visa bulletin, which is posted and updated every month on the state department website. Right now, for example, the wait time for the F1 category for individuals from Mexico is February 1st of 1994. That is over 20 years. For some people there can be a very long wait and for others it is faster. It also depends on which country you are from because there is only a certain amount of visas that can be issued per country, per year. For people from China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines, the wait is usually longer. The rest of the world usually has to wait for a shorter period of time, but it varies depending on what category you are in and where you are coming from.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

One of the most common mistakes is submitting insufficient evidence to prove a bona fide relationship. A lot of people think all you need is a marriage certificate and you’re good, but that just is not true. You should have a paper trail that shows that you have a shared life. A bona fide marriage means that you have proved to the U.S. government that you have a shared life and that you have a valid marriage that was entered into for reasons other than obtaining immigration benefits. You need to submit documents showing joint bank account statements, shared utility bills, photos of the two of you out in public, proof of any children you have together, and any other documents that can prove the validity of the marriage. Especially in non-traditional cases, proving a bona fide relationship requires a lot of documentation. An immigration attorney can definitely help with this.

Reasons a Visa May be Rejected

Proving a bona fide marriage is a big problem for obtaining a visa, but another problem that can arise involves a person’s eligibility for admission to the U.S. For example, the initial family application is filed on USCIS form I-130. Someone could be eligible on the initial family application, which means they have a qualifying relationship with a U.S. citizen or resident, but once their visa number becomes current and they apply for their green card, issues like a criminal history or prior immigration violations may come up. The most common issue is that people don’t know the law. They don’t do their homework, so they apply for someone who is actually not eligible. That can be very dangerous because not only can the application be denied, but that person can also be placed into removal proceedings and be deported from the United States.

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