Family Immigration Lawyer for Spouses, Parents & Children for Bellevue, Seattle and Kirkland

We understand the importance of family.  Family ties and relationships, however, can be strained if some family members live and work in the US, while separated from other family members who are in other countries.

Fortunately, US immigration law provides a path for non-US citizens to enter and work in the US, and possibly become US citizens based upon qualifying family relationships.  As a family immigration law firm, we help unite families and guide them through the complexities of U.S. immigration law.

If you’re seeking a US visa based upon a qualifying family relationship, we invite you complete the contact form or email our office to take the first step toward turning your family’s American dream into reality.

How a Family-Based Immigration Attorney Can Help

With few exceptions such as asylum or VAWA, the U.S. system of immigration is based on either a qualifying family relationship or qualifying employment.  Each category has its own body of law, and each case requires thorough review and analysis.

As a family immigration lawyer, firm-founding attorney Barbara Marcouiller helps clients in Kirkland, Bellevue, Seattle, and the surrounding communities to seek lawful permanent residency through qualifying family relationships.

Who Is Eligible for Family-Based Immigration?

Only specific relationships are eligible for family-based immigration, including:

  • Parents
  • Spouses
  • Siblings
  • Children
  • Fiancés

Only adult U.S. citizens over the age of 21 can petition for parents, married children, siblings, or fiancés.  Lawful permanent residents may petition for spouses and unmarried children whether under or over age 21 (but those are in different categories, so subject to different waiting lines),

Immediate Relatives as defined by U.S. immigration law and not by your culture or custom, may apply for permanent residence without any waiting period, provided they are not subject to any grounds of inadmissibility. Immediate relatives include only an adult U.S. citizen over 21 years of age petitioning for her parent, spouse, or unmarried minor children. That is all.

What is the Definition of a “Child” for Family-Based Immigration?

The definition of “child” is not as straightforward as you may think and needs to be analyzed by a qualified attorney when talking about step-children, illegitimate children, and other cases.

Note: there are no derivative beneficiaries of immediate relatives. This means that if a U.S. citizen over 21 years old is petitioning for his spouse and children, a separate petition must be filed for each individual.  You may not include both the spouse and the children on one petition. Likewise, an adult U.S. citizen petitioning for his parents may not include them both on a single petition. A separate petition must be filed for each qualifying beneficiary. As a result, it will be critical to obtain the services of a family immigration lawyer to make sure the proper process is followed.

Those specific other family relationships that qualify but are not considered immediate relatives all fall into the Preference System. All categories in the preference system are subject to waiting lines. The only other qualifying relationships are: a U.S. citizen over 21 years of age may petition for her adult children whether married or unmarried (but that would put them in a different category), and for her brother/sister; and a Lawful Permanent Resident (“LPR”) may petition for his spouse, unmarried children under 21 years of age, or unmarried children over 21 years of age. NOTE: only U.S. citizens can petition for married children, parents, or siblings.

What Are Derivative Beneficiaries?

There may be derivative beneficiaries in these preference categories. This means, for example, that when a U.S. citizen petitions for her sibling, the sibling’s spouse and minor unmarried children may also be included in that petition. You will want to consult with a family immigration attorney to determine, as a matter of long-term strategy, the best way to pursue your individual case.

For example, if an LPR petitions for his wife, and includes his minor children in that petition, the child may turn 21 years old while waiting for the priority date to become current (waiting for the numbers to get to their place in the “line”). Upon turning 21, the child falls into a different category and needs an independent petition, meaning they’ll have to get a new number and new place in line and start over.  Or, by the time the priority date becomes current, the petitioning parent naturalized, so a minor unmarried child could change categories to be an immediate relative, thereby skipping the rest of the “line.”  In that event, though, the child would need an independent petition. So it may have been better to file separate petitions from the beginning.

We have seen several cases in which an adult U.S. citizen petitions for his parents and a sibling and they all apply for permanent residence at the same time. While correctly filing separate petitions, the parents’ cases get approved, and the sibling is denied and put into removal proceedings, because a sibling is subject to a long waiting line, and so didn’t qualify the same as the parents.  Immigration is highly complicated and technical, and it is worth the investment to work with a knowledgeable highly experienced attorney.

What Is the Family-Based Immigration Preference System?

The Preference System refers to a system of categories or preferences that are subject to numerical restrictions on the number of visas available in each category per U.S. government fiscal year.

What Is an Immigration Priority Date?

When a petition is approved, it is assigned a Priority Date.  In family-based cases, the priority date is the date the petition was received, and represents the beneficiary’s “place in the line.” Cases are processed in chronological order as visa numbers become available.

What is the Visa Bulletin for Immigration Priority?

Each month the Department of State publishes the Visa Bulletin. The Visa Bulletin contains the priority dates for each category that are “current.” In other words, cases in that category with a priority date the same as or earlier than shown in the Visa Bulletin may then continue with processing for permanent residence.

Can I Tell From the Visa Bulletin if My Priority Date Will Be Soon?

No, it’s not valid to extrapolate from the Visa Bulletin an approximate amount of time before your case will be current.  The priority dates do not advance steadily. In fact, months or even years can go by with only a slight advancement in the Priority Date. In some rare instances, the Priority Date can even go backward.

Also, although certain categories may be a higher preference category, upon looking at the Visa Bulletin, you may note that the dates in a “lower” category may be farther ahead, so whether one category is first preference or third preference isn’t as important as the dates.

Common Family-Based Immigration Visa Classifications

Common family-based immigration visas include:

  • K-1 Fiancé Visa/ For engaged partners of U.S. citizens, ensuring a smooth transition to life in the U.S. with the requirement of marriage within 90 days of arrival.
  • K-2 Visa. Catering to the children of K-1 visa holders, contingent on the K-1 recipient’s compliance.
  • K-3 Spouse Visa. Enabling spouses of U.S. citizens or permanent residents to join their partners in the U.S., paving the way to residency and potential U.S. citizenship.
  • K-4 Visa. For children of K-3 visa recipients, dependent on the K-3 holder’s compliance.
  • Family-Based Green Cards. Facilitating U.S. citizens or green card holders in petitioning for visas for close relatives.

As a family immigration law firm, we can explain the detailed requirements for each of these visas.

We Are Committed to Your Family Immigration Needs.

Complete the contact form or email our office for an initial review of your personal situation by an Experienced Family-Based Immigration Lawyer.

Family immigration lawyer Barbara Marcouiller helps clients understand the qualifying family relationships and associated documentation and requirements needed.  She helps clients through the application process, including matters such as establishing proof of relationship, and ensuring that any financial criteria is met.

Contact us today by completing the contact form or emailing our office to learn more about your potential family-based immigration path.

This is general information and does not constitute legal advice; each case must be analyzed independently. Nothing here creates an attorney/client relationship; each potential client must set up an appointment for proper analysis, and written agreement if after a full analysis we both agree in writing that we accept to represent the case and you also agree that you want us to represent your case as detailed specifically in the written contract.

We do not endorse the content on this website in translations other than English, unless officially translated by our law office.

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