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Enjoy the privileges of being a family member of US citizens

21st December 2011
By Jessica Potter in Immigration Law
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US citizenship is the zenith in the life cycle of any immigrant. It gives them greater benefits than what they were enjoying previously as immigrants/ legal permanent residents. It not only benefits them but also their immediate family members. So to put it in a concise manner, US citizenship is for the lifetime of an individual and his/her family.

Privileges enjoyed by a US citizen

The most important privilege bestowed upon a US citizen is the freedom to sponsor their dear and loved ones to the US. When a US citizen sponsors on behalf of the immediate family members, they get priority and do not have to wait in the general queue of pending visas. The immigration process is quicker and easier for them.

For US citizens

It is essential for a citizen to know about the category of family members that he/she is eligible to sponsor and the nature of the visa. A USC can sponsor a Green Card (immigrant petition) for his/her spouse, unmarried children (under 21 yrs of age) and sons /daughters (married and over 21yrs of age). If the USC is over 21 yrs of age, then it is possible to sponsor for parents and siblings. The USCIS forms that are used for this purpose are as follows

• Form I-130 – Petition for Alien Relative
• Form I-864 – Affidavit
• Form I- 485 – Application to adjust status
It is also possible for a USC to sponsor the fiancé to the US by using the K-1 fiancé non-immigrant visa using Form I-129F. Additionally they can also sponsor their spouse or unmarried children of the same using a K-3/K-4 non-immigrant visa.

Who will fall under the Immediate Relatives category?

This category is used only for specific members of the USC family which includes spouses, unmarried children (under 21 yrs of age) and parents. Visas are always available only for this immediate relative category. The other category is the Preference Category which has four divisions. The I preference category - Adult sons and daughters who are unmarried and over 21 yrs of age; II Preference category - 2A – Spouses and unmarried children of permanent residents; II Preference category - 2B - Adult sons and daughters of permanent residents who are unmarried ;III Preference category - Sons and daughters of any age (married);IV Preference category - Siblings of adult USC

How to go about the process?

Once a family member determines the category under which he/she falls, then the rest of the process is simple and easy. The USC should file in Form I-130 along with proof of their Citizenship status. Any evidence that establishes the qualifying relationship should also be included.

If the relative is already in the US, then he/she needs to file in only Form I-485 to adjust the status to that of a permanent resident. This is possible only after the immigrant petition is approved and a visa number becomes available. In case the relative is outside the country, the immigrant petition will be forwarded to the National Visa Centre (NVC) which will send it to a US embassy that serves the country of the relative. The embassy will notify the relative of the visa availability time and request to attend a personal interview. The decision on the visa application will be taken at this interview. This process is known as Consular processing.

Green card holders do not enjoy so much of privileges as a USC. They cannot sponsor a Green card for their parents. So it is an added advantage for US citizens. In order to enjoy this useful concession, green card holders should file in their citizenship applications at the right time.

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