You came to America to begin a better life, and now you want members of your family to do the same. Family-based Immigration is a common way for those abroad to legally enter America.
If you are a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, asylee or refugee, you may be able to help your family by sponsoring them. You may sponsor your spouse, children, parents, brothers and sisters. As outlined on the U.S. Department of State website, the family immigration procedure involves several steps. You are the sponsor; your family member is the applicant. Here are the steps.
- Sponsor: File paperwork with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services called a Petition for Alien Relative. Submit with a filing fee of $535.
- Applicant: Create an account with the National Visa Center. Submit further documents and forms as requested. Pay required processing fees.
- Sponsor: Sign an Affidavit of Support, in which you promise to financially support the applicant for a period of time. Collect documents showing your capability to provide the pledged support. Submit to the NVC.
- Sponsor and applicant: Complete the Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration. Fill out and print the form, then set it aside for the interview.
- Applicant: Gather specified paperwork, including birth certificate, military documents, passport and court records. Scan all documents in full color, so they are complete and easily readable. Keep hard copies; you will need them during your interview.
- Applicant: Upload scanned files to your NVC account. The NVC will schedule your interview with the appropriate consulate or embassy.
- Applicant: Complete the pre-interview tasks. These include getting a medical exam and appropriate vaccinations and collecting all necessary documents (many of which you set aside earlier in the process). Fill out Public Charge Questionnaire DS:5540.
- Applicant: Attend your interview. Bring all necessary paperwork. Everyone who is applying to immigrate should attend the interview; the sponsor should not.
As you can see, it is a lengthy and complex process, but do not let that deter you or your family. Help is available, so reach out for legal assistance. Be patient and do not give up hope.