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The process behind bringing a family member here to the U.S. -- I

For those people who immigrate here to the United States, there is perhaps no better feeling than the day they finally secure citizenship, a validation of all their hard work and a veritable dream come true.

Naturally, one of the first questions that might naturally come to the mind of someone in this situation is if they can use their status as a citizen to help bring their loved ones to the U.S. and, if so, how exactly this can be accomplished.

In today's post, the first in a series, our blog will explore what U.S. citizens can do to help bring family members here to the U.S.

What the law allows

U.S. immigration law allows citizens to help their loved ones secure green cards, a document granting them status as lawful permanent residents. In order to accomplish this, however, the citizen must sponsor their loved one and provide sufficient evidence demonstrating that they have sufficient assets/income to support them upon their arrival here in the U.S.

The Form I-130

The first step in the process is filling out the Form I-130, otherwise known as a Petition for Alien Relative, outlining the relationship of the citizen with the person on whose behalf they are filing the petition and promising to act as a their financial sponsor.

In general, citizens can petition on behalf of immediate relatives such as spouses and their children (with slight differences for older and/or married children). They may also file petitions on behalf of parents and siblings.

In addition to filing the Form I-130, however, the petitioner must also submit evidence demonstrating that the documented familial relationship really exists.

In our next post, we'll continue to explore this important topic, including what happens after the Form I-130 is filed and the expedited treatment afforded immediate relatives.

In the meantime, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you have questions about family immigration or require assistance with the otherwise complex paperwork accompanying most immigration matters.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, "How do I help my relative become a U.S. permanent resident?" Accessed Sept. 24, 2014

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