What Is a Family Reunification Visa?

Family reunification is a mechanism offered by the U.S. government through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to help some people be reunited with their family members who are already in the U.S. This is the most common method for people to immigrate to the U.S. legally There are specific requirements and restrictions for this plan, which it’s vital to be aware of before beginning the application process. Different types of immigration applications may have restrictions on how many applicants will be accepted into the U.S. each year. The basic family reunification, as described below, is unlimited. That doesn’t guarantee admission, however.

To be considered for family reunification, the following conditions must be met.

  • The person(s) applying must be refugees or asylum seekers who want to enter the U.S.
  • The person(s) already in the U.S. must also be refugees or asylum seekers.
  • Only immediate family members may petition for family reunification. That means children, spouses, or the parents of the person requesting reunification. Any children applying must be unmarried and under 21. No other family members (siblings, adult children) are eligible.
  • At the time of this writing, the only people accepted through family reunification are nationals of the countries of Columbia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, or Honduras. This can change if the USCIS modifies its requirements.

There are other types of visas for broader family members, including siblings and married adult children. Suppose you’re unsure which type of visa you and your family would need to apply for or whether or not the nationality is currently accepted. In that case, it’s best to contact an experienced immigration attorney.

Who Can File for a Family Reunification Visa?

A family member who is a legal U.S. resident is the person who must file the petition for a family reunification visa. In essence, that person becomes the sponsor of the people they want to bring into the U.S.

The only family members the sponsor can petition for are immediate family members, as described above. If someone under 21 is already in the U.S. and wants to sponsor immediate family members, they have to wait until they turn 21 to be legally able to petition.

The sponsor has to meet legal qualifications as well. They have to agree that they’re legally responsible for the people they’re sponsoring.

They must also prove they can financially support the immigrants once they arrive. This might take the form of proving employment and income or bank account statements.

What Documentation Do We Need to Provide When Applying for a Family Reunification Visa?

It can vary from case to case. In general, there’s an application form that must be filled out (Form I-130). Documents proving the family relationship are also required, including things such as birth, marriage, or adoption certificates. The petitioner will need to provide documents demonstrating they’re U.S. citizens or permanent residents, such as valid passports or a permanent resident card. The USCIS may require other documents as well. Note that each person who wants to immigrate must have a separate application; they can’t apply together as a group.

How Long Does the Family Reunification Visa Process Take?

Each case is addressed individually, and the amount of time needed varies depending on the circumstances of each family. It can take between one and five years to receive approval. If the person who wants to immigrate has a blood relative in the U.S., it may move more quickly.

What Are Potential Legal Stumbling Blocks to Receiving Family Reunification Visa Approval from the USCIS?

There are many, and as each case is unique, it’s impossible to list them all. These are some of the common difficulties people may have when it comes to applying for family reunification visas.

  • Financial issues. The sponsor can’t provide proof of adequate income (including difficulty coming up with the funds for the application fees), which could mean they’re unable to support family members if they come to the U.S.
  • Documentation issues. Depending on the location of the family members, it may not be easy to get the necessary documentation (such as birth certificates) to prove the family relationship to the USCIS.
  • Language barriers.
  • Strict definition of family relationships. It may be difficult for people outside the U.S. to understand the strict limitations on immediate family members. Different cultures have different values when it comes to family relationships.
  • USCIS backlogs. The USCIS can be overwhelmed with applicants, slowing down the process. If mistakes are made on their end that lead to denials, the applicant may be required to begin again. It’s vital to work with an experienced immigration attorney who understands the process and can identify when and where errors have been made in order to appeal or refile them (sometimes the latter is quicker than the former).

What Should I Do if Need Help With Getting a Family Reunification Visa for My Family Members?

Call Toland Law, LLC, at 857-347-3701 to request a free consultation. This is a daunting, complex process that shouldn’t be undertaken alone. Our team of experienced, knowledgeable immigration attorneys understands how important it is for you to reunite with your family.

This is a complex type of law with many requirements that can’t be skipped. We can help you through the rules and regulations and ensure you manage the process as smoothly as possible to avoid delays and application denials.

Toland Law, LLC