Atlanta, GA family law attorney Judith Delus Montgomery talks about the process of filing for a family visa and what that entails for an immigrant to come and stay in the US.
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There are many different visas, and so we have family based petitions and then you have maybe employment based petitions. There are many different ways to come to the United States. The most prevalent one would be family based. There are different forms of those, but the main one is the I-485, and that is where there is a relative in the United States, hopefully a direct relative. For example a spouse, a parent, or a child who is a U.S. citizen, and they can petition for you to come and join them in the United States.
So the most prevalent one would be you marrying a U.S. citizen and they petitioning for you to come to the U.S. You may do that by way of filing the I-485 or you may do that by way of filing a K-1 Visa. They would have to come here and within 90 days the parties have to make the decision to get married within those 90 days. And if they fail to get married, then that other party would have to return back to their country. Sometimes the fiancé visa may be denied, and so then the parties would have to go through what’s called counselor processing, which means they would have to process their petition through the consulate, a U.S. Consulate in that country.
And then the other way is that the U.S. citizen here in the United States, you know, marries a non-citizen, and then they file an I-485 petition. In the U.S. they have different visas that they give out. They have numbers. It’s a numbers game, but these are unlimited. If you are getting married to a U.S. citizen, you are a child of a U.S. citizen, or a parent of a U.S. citizen and the child is older than 21, then that child can petition for you. And those visas or those petitions move a lot swifter.
Then you have the family based petitions where it’s a brother or a sister that’s petitioning for you. So if they’re petitioning for you the U.S. is looking to see are you married and have children? If you are married and have children, it may take you a little bit longer than someone who is unmarried and doesn’t have children. Right. Because obviously what we don’t want is there to be a whole bunch of folks coming to the U.S. and then they become a burden. So obviously if someone is young and single, they’re more aptly to come to the U.S., get to work and be able to provide to the economy. You know, pay bills, pay taxes and you don’t have to worry about their money being sent back to the other country, and then kind of splitting where that money goes. Right.
So there are different categories depending on who can come and how quickly they can come, but I can tell you on average for those types of visas and petitions, you’re looking at 15 to 20 years before someone can get approved, get an interview and come to the U.S. And people do it. People actually petition and wait those 10, 15, 20 years to get to the United States. But the most prevalent ones are going to be the ones where you’re married to a U.S. citizen, you’re a parent to a U.S. citizen, or you’re the parent and you have a minor that you’re bringing here to the U.S.