In most countries around the world, reunification of family members through a legal immigration process is considered to be a recognition of human rights that aims to strike a balance with sovereign laws related to migration controls. In the United States, this process is known as family-based immigration, and it has been an important aspect of the Immigration and Nationality Act since the late 1960s. It should be noted that marriage-based immigration, which is considered to be part of family reunification in many countries, is actually handled separately in the U.S. In essence, American citizens and permanent residents can sponsor certain foreign relatives to come to the country for the purpose of establishing legal residency.
Understanding Family-Based Immigration in the United States
Ever since United States President Donald Trump arrived at the White House, the issue of family-based immigration has become controversial because he considers it a form of “chain migration” that should be curtailed or eliminated—a foolish notion, considering his own wife and in-laws became naturalized citizens through this process. For this reason, the stories of the First Lady and her parents are often used to describe how family-based immigration works.
Admissibility and Eligibility
The first step in all immigration processes is to determine if foreigners can be admitted into the country through a vetting process. For example, foreigners who present a national security risk can be declared inadmissible, but if such determination is made on the basis of race, religion, or nationality, it can be challenged by immigration attorneys in San Diego or anywhere in the U.S. Eligibility is determined by four levels of preference:
F1 – Adult unmarried children of U.S. citizens
F2 – Spouses and unmarried children of green card holders
F3 – Married children of U.S. citizens
F4 – Siblings of U.S. citizens
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, immediate relatives aren’t categorized under the preference levels above. Their path toward legal residency is more expedient, as long as they’re admissible. Immediate relatives include:
- Spouses of U.S. citizens
- Parents of U.S. citizens
- Minor and unmarried children of U.S. citizens (as long as they’re under the age of 21)
The two forms central to the family-based immigration process are I-130 and I-485. The former is a petition filed by the relative and the latter a request for adjustment of status. This is the process the First Lady followed to bring her parents to the U.S. from their native Slovenia, and they eventually became naturalized citizens.
Adjustment of Status Denials
Even after being deemed admissible, relatives who entered the U.S. irregularly or who may have violated immigration laws may be prevented from adjusting their status, a situation that could leave them open for deportation and removal. When this happens, applicants and their relatives should seek the advice of immigration lawyers with experience in family-based immigration. San Diego, on the Mexican border, has many immigrant residents who want to have family members join them in the U.S., and they’re justifiably worried about the current uncertainty surrounding U.S. immigration policy.
If you would like more information about family-based immigration or you need the services of reliable, trustworthy immigration lawyers in San Diego, reach out to KS Visa Law today. Call 858-874-0711 to schedule an appointment.