Proving the Family Relationship: Petitions for Foreign-born Relatives
Once you have confirmed eligibility with your immigration lawyer, next you need to prepare and file certain forms and documents to establish your relatives’ eligibility to immigrate to the United States:
- If the relative you want to petition for is your spouse, child, parent, or sibling, you will need to submit a correct and complete Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative)
- To petition for your fiancée and his/her children under 21, you must submit a correct and complete Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé (e).
- To obtain a K-3/K-4 Nonimmigrant Visa for your spouse and the children of your spouse, you must submit Form I-129F and Form I-130.
You will need to prove your own immigration status with evidence of your U.S. citizenship or residency. In addition, if you have past convictions related to child or spousal abuse or any type of sexual abuse, you may be ineligible to petition for your relatives.
In addition, you must submit evidence sufficient to prove the bona fides of your relationship with the beneficiary of your petition. For example, if the beneficiary is a spouse, you must demonstrate that your marriage was entered into in good faith, and not for the purpose of evading the U.S. immigration laws.
Such evidence includes, but is not limited to:
1. Marriage certificate
2. Divorce Decrees for any past marriages
3. Death certificates for any late spouse
4. Birth certificates of shared children
5. Statements from shared bank accounts
6. Insurance policies (auto, health or life) covering both spouses or naming one spouse as the other’s primary beneficiary
7. Statements from shared credit card accounts
8. Statements from shared investment accounts (including a mortgage)
9. Titles to jointly owned property (including autos or real estate)
10. Family and wedding photographs
11. Sworn statements from family and friends regarding the relationship
12. Copies of correspondence between spouses
If the beneficiary is a child born out of wedlock and you are the father, you must demonstrate that you have legitimated the child and/or maintained an ongoing parent-child relationship with the beneficiary through proof of financial support of and regular communication with your son or daughter.
Such evidence includes, but is not limited to:
1. Western Union or other wire transfer receipts
2. Evidence of travel for visits such as plane or bus tickets
3. Family photographs showing the petitioner and beneficiary together
4. Sworn statements from friends and family regarding the relationship
5. Phone records demonstrating regular phone communication
6. Copies of correspondence between the petitioner and beneficiary
7. Proof of legitimation under the laws of the child’s residence or domicile
Financial Evidence Required: The Affidavit of Support
If your petition has been approved and the beneficiary is an immediate relative or has a current priority date, then it is time to consider whether you meet the economic requirements to sponsor an immigrant to the United States. In order to demonstrate financial eligibility, you must file Form I-864 Affidavit of Support. The Affidavit of Support is a contract you enter into with the government whereby you agree to provide for your relative’s basic needs so that he or she does not become a “public charge” until he or she either becomes a U.S. citizen or works for approximately 10 years in the United States. You will remain liable for this level of support for your beneficiary even in cases of divorce (unless and until he or she remarries) or other familial discord.
In addition, if you cannot prove that your income and assets are equivalent to a minimum amount established by the federal government (specifically, at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for your family size), then you must prepare and submit an affidavit of support from a co-sponsor. A co-sponsor may be anyone who has U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency, and who earns the minimum required for his or her family size (again, at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines). In addition, the co-sponsor must be willing to contract with the U.S. government to support your relative at a minimum standard of living until he or she becomes a citizen or earns 10 years or more worth of wages in the United States.
Documentary Requirements for the sponsor and any co-sponsor signing an Affidavit of Support include the following:
1. Three most recent years of Tax Returns and Forms W-2 or 1099
2. Letter from employer confirming the sponsor’s employment and salary
3. Three recent check stubs or proof of regular salary payments
4. Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency
Proving Admissibility: Filing the Application for Residency
If he or she is eligible to file for Adjustment of Status, then your relative needs to file a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
If he or she is eligible to receive his or her resident status through a U.S. consulate, then a Form DS-260 is required.
Whether adjusting status or going through the consular process, your relative will need to prove that he or she has received all required vaccinations and passed a physical examination with a certified Civil Surgeon prior to his or her interview with immigration officers.
Finally, your relative must not be “inadmissible” to the United States, or must have an approved waiver of inadmissibility, in order to be granted resident status in the United States.
Walker Gates Vela handles all manner of family-based immigration matters
Whether you want to bring a family member to join you in the United States or you would like to relocate to this country to be with your relatives, we can help. The Austin immigration lawyers at Walker Gates Vela have committed their lives to reuniting families in Texas and across the United States. Our mission is to support the immigrant community in the quest to build a life of prosperity, dignity, and justice in the United States.
Many applications are denied or otherwise complicated simply because a form wasn’t filled out correctly or completely. Providing the correct documentation and evidence of admissibility is critical for ensuring your relative’s successful immigration process. Because of the many potential roadblocks, working closely with an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney offers peace of mind and the most efficient route to approval of a family member’s petition. Contact our immigration law firm right away by calling (512) 633-1785 for our Austin office or (361) 356-4502 for our Corpus Christi office or contact us online today.