How to Help a Family Member Obtain Legal Status

By James Parker
September 22, 2022

Immigration is a stressful process. It can often have the unintended effect of splitting up families. Fortunately, U.S. immigration law has ways to reunite families who have been separated during the immigration process. 

If you are an immigrant or citizen living in the United States, and you want to bring over a family member, the family visa system is the way to accomplish this. To aid you in this process, Attorney at Law has put together a short guide to help outline the process.

1. Determine Your Eligibility

Before you can help your family immigrate to the United States, you will need to determine whether you are eligible to give your endorsement for the family visa. In general, in order to endorse a family member to come to the U.S., you will need to have achieved either citizen or lawful permanent resident status.

If you are a lawful permanent resident, you may be more limited in which family members can come to the U.S., while citizens can bring most family members. If you want to transition your status to full citizenship before applying for a family member to come to the United States, check out AAL’s guide to becoming a U.S. citizen.

In addition to citizens and lawful permanent residents, refugees who have been admitted or granted asylum in the past two years can also apply for a family visa.

2.  Consult With an Immigration Expert

Before you begin the process of bringing a family member to the United States, you should consult with an immigration attorney. Immigration is a complex legal topic largely governed by broad statutes like the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986, and the Immigration Act of 1990. An immigration attorney can help you and your family member navigate these laws in the most efficient way possible.

In addition to helping you and your family member navigate complex legal statutes, consulting with an immigration attorney can also help by examining your case for red flags. For example, if your family member has any issue in their history, that would cause the U.S. Center For Immigration Services (USCIS) to deny them. In that case, an immigration attorney can find them and can explore ways to minimize or eliminate those issues. 

3. Begin The Family Visa Process[120 words]

The path to bringing over your relative is known as the family immigration path. This pathway will result in your family receiving lawful permanent resident status, also known as a “green card,” allowing them to stay in the U.S. indefinitely.

There are a limited number of family visas that are made available each year. Additionally, depending on which family member is being brought over, your family member’s visa will rank higher or lower on the USCIS’ priority system. The USCIS priority system ranks different family members in different ways. The list of priorities is generally:

  1. Unmarried children of U.S. citizens
  2. Spouses of lawful permanent residents
  3. Unmarried children of lawful permanent residents
  4. Married children of citizens or lawful permanent residents
  5. Siblings of a citizen or lawful permanent resident over the age of 21

This hierarchy can make some family visas easier to acquire than others. For example, if you are trying to bring over your spouse or unmarried child, that will be easier to accomplish than trying to bring an older sibling or married child.

4. File Your Petition Endorsing Your Relative

Once you have begun the family visa process, your relative will have to complete a series of logistical and bureaucratic requirements, including medical examinations, fee payments, and an interview. However, in order to begin this process, you will need to petition on their behalf. 

The I-130 Petition for Alien Relative is a form that allows you to endorse your family member. U.S. citizens can file an I-130 petition for their spouse, parent, child, or sibling. However, lawful permanent residents are restricted to only being able to file I-130 petitions for a spouse or unmarried child. 

5. Find The Immigration Attorney You Need

If you are trying to help a family member immigrate to the United States, acquire a green card, and become a U.S. citizen, you will need the help of an experienced Immigration Law attorney. An Immigration Law attorney will be able to advise you and advocate on your behalf to get you the best possible outcome for your case.

Using their legal expertise, trial tactics, and expert witnesses, your Immigration Law attorney can explore your options within the immigration system, present your case in the most compelling light possible, as well as deftly navigate the complex processes of immigration bureaucracy and immigration court while advocating for your rights. The best place to find an immigration attorney is Attorney at Law.

At AAL, our nationwide network of attorneys and law firms allows us to match you with the best attorney in your area. Our attorneys have excellent case records and the legal experience that can only come from helping thousands of clients.

In addition to their legal expertise, our legal partners are also chosen for their excellent client care. We understand the stress and frustration that can come from the immigration process. That’s why our partner firms take extra steps to treat their clients with care and respect.

Don’t wait. Contact AAL today for a complimentary consultation and begin your immigration journey on the right foot.


*Disclaimer: Attorney At Law does not represent all lawyers in all states. There may be differences of opinion. It’s always advisable to consult with an attorney when in a legal situation.

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