Family Petition: How to Help a Family Member Change Their Immigration Status

Aug 1, 2022 | Immigration Status

If you have a family member who is living in the United States without proper immigration status, you may be able to help them change their status through a process known as a family petition. Family petitions are a way for undocumented immigrants to gain legal immigration status in the United States. At Puntier Law we have helped many families with cases like this and we want to provide you with an overview of the process of filing a family petition and what to expect during the immigration process.


Does your relative qualify for Family based immigration benefits?

According to United States immigration law, United States citizens can sponsor relatives for immigration if they fall under certain categories. The most common category that undocumented immigrants fall under is an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen. Qualifying family members include:

– Spouses

– Children

– Parents

– Step-parents & step-children if the relationship was established prior to the child reaching 18 years of age.


Married adult children can also qualify

Other relatives may also qualify for immigration benefits through what is called a preference system. This system gives priority to certain family relationships like married children of citizens and siblings of citizens over other types of relationships. If you have married children or siblings who are undocumented immigrants, they may be able to get immigration benefits through this system.


You can help adult children with children

Children over 21 with children of their own can also be sponsored for immigration benefits. If you have an undocumented child who is over 21 and has children of their own, you may be able to help them get legal status in the United States. Once your child becomes a citizen they can then petition for their own children’s status adjustment.


The first step in the process is to file an I-130 petition.

The first step in the family petition process is to file an I-130 petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The I-130 petition is also known as the Petition for Alien Relative. This form must be filed by a relative who is a citizen or permanent resident of the United States and it establishes the relationship between the sponsor and immigrant. At Puntier Law we recommend that you allow a experienced attorney fill it out for you.


The waiting period varies

After filing the I-130 petition, you will need to wait for it to be approved before your relative can start the next steps in their immigration process. The amount of time that it takes for the I-130 petition to be approved varies depending on the relationship between the sponsor and immigrant. Spouse applications may be faster than sibling applications. For example, if you are sponsoring your spouse for immigration, it may take several months for the petition to be approved. However, if you are sponsoring a sibling for immigration, it may take several years for the petition to be approved.


Once the I-130 petition is approved, your relative can start the next steps in their immigration process.

The next steps in the immigration process will vary depending on your relative’s specific situation. For example, if your relative is already living in the United States with undocumented status, they will need to file an application for adjustment of status if they qualify. This application will usually allow them to apply for a green card without having to leave the United States.


Relatives outside the united states can apply

If your relative is living outside of the United States, they will need to apply for an immigrant visa through a consular interview. The consular interview is a meeting that will be scheduled at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. During the meeting, they will need to provide documentation to prove their relationship to you as well as pass a medical examination and background check.


An experienced attorney can help your relative pass the interview

The consular interview can be a daunting process, but an experienced immigration attorney can help your relative prepare for the interview and increase their chances of success. At Puntier law we have assisted many families with every step of the family petition process, including preparations for the consular interview.


Increase your chances of success with an experienced attorney

Failing the interview or making a mistake in the required forms can result in a denial. If your relative fails the consular interview or makes a mistake in any of the required forms, it could result in a denial of their immigration benefits. This is why it is so important to have an experienced immigration attorney by your side throughout the process.


There are strict requirements to take advantage of this benefit

It is important to note that not all family members will be eligible for immigration benefits through family petitions in the first place. They must meet certain requirements above and beyond the relationship requirements. Before you apply, we recommend a thorough review of the case by an experienced attorney show can help you anticipate any potential issues ahead of time. For example, an undocumented immigrant who has committed a crime or who has been ordered deported from the United States will not be able to use this process to change their immigration status.


Talk to us about any possible criminal activity

Moral character is required to qualify for most immigration benefits including family petitions. So it’s important to tell us if you or your relative have ever falsified documents, failed to pay taxes, been arrested, or have any other skeletons in the closet. Entering the county illegally or overstaying a visa will also result in automatic disqualification as well.


If you have a weak case we may still be able to help you

In some cases, we have been able to help families adjust their status despite weaknesses in the case. if your loved one may be disqualified due to their record we can still explore some options for you. For instance, when we review the details of your records we may be able to make a plan to clean your criminal records, address issues back taxes etc.


A waiver may be available in some cases

Depending on the immigration benefits your relative is applying for there may be a waiver available. A waiver is basically forgiveness for certain immigration violations. The most common type of waiver we see is the I-601A provisional unlawful presence waiver. This type of waiver is only available to spouses and sons/daughters of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents who qualify for an immigrant visa but are unable to obtain one because they have accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence in the United States. If your loved one qualifies, this could be a way to overcome their immigration obstacles and allow them to obtain their legal status without the fear of being denied their immigration benefit due to unlawful presence. Other types of waivers may also be available depending on your individual case so it’s important to discuss all of your options with an immigration attorney.


Applying for a family petition is a complex process but we can help

As you can see, there are many factors to consider when applying for a family petition. The immigration process is already complicated enough without having to worry about whether or not your loved one will be able to stay in the country. This is why it’s so important to have an experienced immigration attorney by your side throughout the process. At Puntier Law, we have helped many families navigate the family petition process and we can do the same for you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. We’ll go over your case and help you decide what steps to take next. Contact us for help with your family petition case in Atlanta.

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