Family Based Immigration - Fiction Vs. Fact

There are many misconceptions about family-based immigration which can cause undue stress and problems for those who wish to engage in the process of bringing family members to live in the United States.

Awareness of the process and possible pitfalls associated with family-based immigration can help to avoid potential problems and decrease the significant time periods between petitioning for family members to immigrate and their actual arrival date.

Marriage-Based Immigration

There are many misconceptions about the process of bringing spouses and stepchildren to the United States after marriage. It's not as simple as you might think.

Fiction: You can bring your spouse home with you if you marry in their country.

Fact: Your spouse must remain in their country while you file a petition for their immigration on a spouse visa. The process will usually take at least one year or longer.

Fiction: Your spouse can remain in the United States after arriving in the United States on a fiancee visa, which allows the foreign-born fiancee to come into the country solely for the purpose of marriage.

Fact: A fiancee visa is a temporary visa issued for traveling to the U.S. to get married. After marriage, the spouse must return and wait for at least one year for a spouse visa to be processed.

Fiction: A citizen or legal resident of the U.S. can petition for all stepchildren under the age of 21 for a family-based visa.

Fact: Although a citizen or legal resident can petition for stepchildren up to 21 years old, the marriage must have taken place before a stepchild's 18th birthday.

Fiction: A resident of another country can marry a U.S. citizen or resident under false pretenses and divorce them as soon as they receive their permanent resident visa.

Fact: Foreign-born spouses must remain married to their U.S. petitioner spouse for at least two years, or their permanent residence will be revoked.

Non-Spousal Family-Based Immigration

There are also popular misconceptions about petitioning for family members such as parents, siblings, and the families of siblings.

Fiction: Destitute parents and siblings can receive government benefits upon arrival in the U.S as permanent residents.

Fact: An affidavit of support must be submitted along with a petition for any family member. This affidavit guarantees that the new immigrants will not become a public charge until they can reach self-sufficiency or become a U.S. citizen, which require a five-year wait before citizenship can be acquired.

The U.S petitioner must prove that they have access to adequate resources to support their family members if needed, and must surrender their assets if necessary.

Petitioning for family members is a long and expensive process, with risks to both the petitioner and the family members who must adapt to a new country. All of these factors must be considered before deciding upon immigration for family members is initiated. 

Contact a family law office for more information and assistance.