California Attorneys Guide Clients Through the Family-Based Immigration Process
Comprehensive counsel for people looking to help loved ones immigrate
At the Law Office of Jennifer S.F. Lim, we advise clients regarding the procedures and requirements that are involved with different forms of family-based immigration. In most cases, our clients are U.S. citizens or permanent residents who need to learn about the best ways to obtain U.S. entry or permanent residence for a relative: parent, spouse, fiancé or fiancée, son or daughter, brother or sister. We can help you understand what to expect and what needs to be done. Our firm serves family, individual and business clients nationwide and around the world. Our versatility and breadth of experience in U.S. immigration law represent a significant benefit for our clients.
Skilled advocacy and professional assistance with visa and status issues
Much of our work for family clients involves achieving legal entry, maintenance of status, adjustment of status, change of status, and finding the fastest and most effective ways to meet immediate or ongoing immigration objectives. Sometimes the fastest way will require additional work later on, as when a noncitizen spouse enters the United States on a nonimmigrant K-3 visa. We give our clients clear explanations of all their options, so that the eventual choice is based on sound advice and clear judgment.
Examples of the kinds of family immigration situations we handle include:
- Permanent residence (green card) for immediate relatives
- Entry and permanent residence for noncitizen spouses
- Preference categories for family-based immigration visas
- Nonimmigrant K-3 spouse and K-4 dependent visas
- Fiancé or fiancée visas
- Adjustment of status
- Consular processing
- Family-based waivers of inadmissibility
- Derivative citizenship (from U.S. citizen parents)
- Removal defense
We explain each process carefully, so that you know just what to expect: current processing times, priority dates, evidence and documentation requirements, visa availability, interview process, and the affidavits of support that must be completed for the noncitizen relative.
We provide straightforward and timely answers to your questions while giving you the information you need to make informed choices about your family.
Requirement of Affidavit of Support (I-864) for all immediate relative and family preference immigrant visa petitions
For all immediate relative (i.e. spouses and children under 21 of U.S. citizens) and family preference petitions (e.g. spouses and children under 21 of U.S. permanent residents and siblings of U.S. citizens), the USCIS requires the petitioner (i.e. U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who is seeking to immigrate his or her family member) to sign an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) to ensure that the beneficiary (i.e. the family member being sponsored) do not become a “public charge” at the expense of U.S. taxpayers. The U.S. petitioner or sponsor must submit his or her most recent federal tax return and disclose his or her annual income for the 3 most recent tax years on Form I-864. In addition, the U.S. petitioner or sponsor must meet certain minimum income guidelines (i.e. 125% of the current poverty level for his or her household size as determined by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. More information on the Form I-864 requirements can be found in the following link: I-864 information and form. Current information on the minimum income guidelines for the I-864 affidavit of support can be found in the following link: I-864P poverty guidelines. If the petitioner or sponsor is unable to meet the minimum income guidelines, he or she can also use his or her assets to qualify. In some cases, the beneficiary’s income (if employed with valid work authorization) and assets can be used for meeting the minimum income guidelines.
Alert: Department of State issues “90-day” rule prohibiting an alien from violating or engaging in conduct inconsistent with his or her visa status within 90 days of entry
Effective August 1, 2017, the Department of State revised its guidance in the Foreign Affairs Manual, at 9 FAM 302.9-4(B)(3) (U), which establishes a presumption of willful misrepresentation “if an alien violates or engaging in conduct inconsistent with his or her nonimmigrant status within 90 days of entry“. Examples of such prohibited conduct includes: (i) engaging in unauthorized employment, (ii) enrolling in a course of academic study, if such study is not authorized for that nonimmigrant classification (e.g. a B-2 tourist visa holder enrolling in a course of academic study), (iii) A nonimmigrant B or F status, or any other status prohibiting immigrant intent, marrying a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and taking up residence in the U.S., or (iv) undertaking any other activity for which a change of status or an adjustment of status would be required, without the benefit of such a change or adjustment. The text of this new guidance can be found in the following link: 9 FAM 302.9-4
The USCIS will take into account the above guidance from the Department of State, when adjudicating visa applications or application for adjustment of status to permanent residence in the United States, as analytical tool to determine if the applicant has made any willful misrepresentation. But it is not a binding rule on the USCIS and exceptions can be made based on individual circumstances. Therefore, many attorneys have advised their clients not to file the Form I-485 application for adjustment of status within 90 days after arriving in the United States. The 90-day rule may not be applicable to certain visa types that allow “dual intent” (i.e. non-immigrant intent and also immigrant intent), such as H1-B or O-1 visas and is not applicable to K-1 fiance/fiancee visas or K-3/K-4 spouse/dependent visas.