DC FAMILY IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY
We are dedicated to your family immigration success! Contact us today for
a consultation with our DC family immigration attorney.
Victoria Kuzmina, a DC family immigration attorney is dedicated to assisting families with their immigration needs:
We will gladly accommodate family immigration clients from all 50 states and worldwide. Our DC family immigration attorney provides legal representation on various family immigration issues and is dedicated to providing her clients the best possible service.
Whether you have specific questions about your family immigration matter or seeking legal representation, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with our DC family immigration attorney Kuzmina.
DC Family Immigration Attorney Offers The Following Services:
- Fiancee K-1 Visa
- K-3 Visas (for couples who got married abroad)
- Green Cards for Spouses of US Citizens
- Green Cards for Spouses of US Permanent Residents
- Green Cards for Immediate Relatives of US Citizens and Permanent Residents
- Removal of Conditions on Permanent Residence
- Waiver on filing Joint Petition for Removal of Conditions on Permanent Residence (Good Faith Waiver)
- Adjustment of Status
- Consular Processing
- US Citizenship and Naturalization
If you have close family members in the United States, they may be able to help you immigrate to the US. Their relation to you is important: the closer the relationship, the more rights you have under the immigration laws. US citizens can also bring parents and siblings, while the permanent residents can only bring immediate relatives. Also, US citizens’ relatives are able to immigrate faster to the US than those of permanent residents’. To help you decide which family green card category applies to you, our DC family immigration attorney is available for a phone consultation.
- Generally, person’s educational background or work experience do not matter
- Spouse and their children under the age of 21 are generally eligible for green cards
- Once an individual becomes a permanent resident (holds a green card) for 5 years (3 years in marriage cases), he or she can apply for a US citizenship
Possible Issues with Family Green Cards: The green card can be taken away if the individual lives outside the US for too long, commits a crime, or even fails to notify the USCIS about the change of address. It is important to talk to your DC family immigration attorney to ensure you are familiar with all of the rules and requirements.
Family of US Citizens
Family of Permanent Residents
Eligibility for a Family Green Card through a Relative:
You may qualify for a family green card through a relative if you are in one of the following categories:
- Immediate relative of a US citizen
- Preference relative of a US citizen or permanent resident
- Accompanying relative of someone in a preference category
Immediate Relatives are the following individuals:
- Spouse of a US citizen. This category also includes same-sex couples
- Widow or widower of US citizen if the process had already been started or is started within 2 years of US citizen’s death
- Unmarried children of a US citizen under the age of 21
- Parents of US citizens, but the US citizen child must be at least 21
- Stepparents and stepchildren qualify as immediate relatives if marriage that created parent/child relationship occurred before the child’s 18th birthday
- Parents and children related through adoption (special rules apply)
For more information on how to proceed seeking immigration for immediate relatives or any questions relating to family immigration, contact our DC family immigration attorney.
Who is a “Child”?
For the purposes of immigration law, to be a “child”, a person must be two things: (1) the person must be under the age of 21 and (2) must be unmarried. For example, a married 18-year-old daughter will not be considered a child for the purposes of family immigration. But an 18-year-old daughter who is NOT married will be considered a child for the purposes of immigration law.
Biological children born in wedlock are considered “children” of their biological parents under the immigration laws. However, other children, such as stepchildren, adopted children, adopted orphans, and children born out of wedlock may qualify as well. These other children have to meet additional requirements. If you would like to learn what rules might apply to your “child,” please schedule a consultation with the DC family immigration attorney today.
Who is a “Spouse”?
Heterosexual couples who are legally married and have a bona fide marriage relationship are considered spouses. A marriage is considered bona fide or good faith under immigration laws, when the couple got married not for the purposes of obtaining immigration benefits.
Since June 2013, USCIS has been approving visa petitions for same-sex spouses, using the same criteria as for the heterosexual couples. One important note is that the USCIS looks at the law where the marriage took place – the marriage must be legal. Therefore, if you are considering getting married in a country that does not legally recognize same-sex marriage, then you would not have a valid marriage and a spousal relationship for the purposes of the immigration law.
Transgender couples should also be able to go forward as same-sex couples if they were married in places where same-sex couples are legally able to marry.
Widows and Widowers:
A widow or widower of a US citizen, who was not legally separated from the US citizen at the time of his/her death, will continue to be considered an immediate relative for 2 years after the US citizen’s death, or until the time he or she remarries, whichever comes first. If you are seeking permanent residency as a widow or winder of a US citizen and would like assistance with your family-based case, contact a family green card DC immigration attorney for a consultation.
Preference relatives are the following individuals:
- Unmarried sons/daughters of US citizens over the age of 21. Category: Family first preference
- Spouse and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of Green Card holders. Category: Family second preference – 2A
- Unmarried sons/daughters of Green Card holders, who are 21 years or older. Category: Family second preference – 2B
- Married sons/daughters of US citizens of any age. Category: Family third preference
- Sisters and brothers of US citizens, where the US citizen is at least 21 years old. Category: Family fourth preference
Who is a Son or Daughter?
A son or daughter who would have qualified as a “child”, but now is over 21 or married.
For more information on how to seek immigration for preference relatives, the timelines associated with preference relatives, and government filing fees, contact our DC family immigration attorney for a consultation.
Overview of the Family Immigration Process:
The family immigration process consists of 2 steps. The first step is a family visa petition. The second step is the actual application to become a permanent resident.
Step #1: The Petition
In order for a person to immigrate to the US through a US citizen or US permanent resident relative, the US relative has to prove to the USCIS that there is a required relationship. The US relative is called the petitioner and the foreign relative is called the beneficiary.
The form that begins the process of immigration of a family member is filed by the US relative and is called the Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130).
Generally, petitioner can prove the required relationship with the beneficiary by submitting documents such as a birth and marriage certificate. Some cases might be more complex and will require submission of various documents. It is important to review the from I-130 instructions to ensure you are submitting all necessary documents. If you are unsure how to proceed or would like assistance from the family immigration attorney, please do not hesitate to contact our DC family immigration attorney.
When the petition on form I-130 is filed, the beneficiary is placed into the preference category based on the relationship between the petitioner and beneficiary. For example, a spouse of a US permanent resident falls under the category, referred to as “2A” or “second preference.” The average time that the USCIS takes to process the I-130 petition is 6 months.
Step #2: Application to Immigrate
Once the foreign relative’s petition is processed, he or she can apply to immigrate. Some people call this process as becoming a lawful permanent resident, or immigrating, getting an immigrant visa or a green card. Basically, all these terms mean the same thing – “getting a green card.”
How soon the beneficiary can apply for the green card depends on what category of relatives they fit in. For example, spouses, parents and unmarried children of US citizens are considered “immediate relatives” and the immigrant visa is usually always available to them. Therefore, they don’t have to wait in line to apply for a green card. Other relatives, such as spouse or unmarried children of a permanent resident have to wait in line until an immigrant visa number becomes available. For more information on how to proceed seeking immigration for US citizen or permanent residents’ relatives, the timelines associated with the process, as well as the fees, our DC family immigration attorney would be glad to answer your questions during a consultation.
Adjustment of Status v Consular Processing
If and/or when the immigrant visa number is available, individuals can immigrate either by applying for an immigrant visa abroad through “consular processing” or by applying for “adjustment of status” if they are already present in the US. Both processes involve various considerations, requirements, and time limits. For these reasons, it is important to consult with a DC family immigration attorney to discuss what option would work best for you.
When an individual obtains a green card through marriage and has been married for less than 3 years, then conditions are placed on their permanent residence. This is called “conditional permanent residence.” Generally, at a two-year mark, the condition needs to be removed where both spouses file the joint petition. Conditional residence is much like a permanent residence, but it expires in 2 years. Therefore, the couple has to file the petition within 90 days before the expiration date, to turn the conditional residence into permanent residence. If you need help or are unsure how to proceed with the removal of conditions because you are separated or divorced, our DC family immigration attorney will gladly assist you with this process.
Waiver for the Requirement to File a Joint Petition or “Good Faith Waiver”
There are certain situations where you have been married for less than 2 years and are unable to file the joint petition together. Such situations include a divorce, death, or abuse. Therefore, you might be able to file the removal of conditions yourself, so long as you meet the necessary requirements. We welcome you to consult with our DC family immigration attorney to learn how you can to file the waiver on your own.
If you are unable to file a joint petition with your US citizen spouse to remove the condition on your residency, the waiver can be granted in 3 circumstances:
- You entered the marriage in good faith. But the marriage is legally terminated through divorce or death.
- You were battered or subject to extreme cruelty by your US spouse. The marriage was entered in good faith.
- Your deportation will cause you extreme hardship (greater than what is normally experienced during deportation).
Contact the DC family immigration attorney to determine whether you qualify for the waiver. To help establish a good faith marriage, you will need to supply documents proving the marriage was not a sham. An example of such documents would be a joint bank account, joint apartment lease, joint insurance, and affidavits of your friends and relatives attesting to your relationship, etc. Of course, if you had children together, this is a strong evidence of a good faith marriage. You will need to supply a birth certificate or hospital records for the child. If you do not have those documents or do not know how to acquire them, the DC family immigration attorney will discuss what other options might be available to you.
If the basis of your waiver is abuse by your spouse, evidence of police reports, medical or psychiatric reports, photos, and affidavits from witnesses will all be helpful in proving your case. Preparing and filing a waiver can be stressful and confusing. Therefore, working with our DC family immigration attorney might help you feel more at peace knowing that a professional is working hard on representing your interests.
K-1 Fiance(e) Visas
K-1 visa covers the fiance(e) visa of a US citizen. The K-1 visa allows the foreign fiance(e) to travel to the US to get married. The marriage has to occur within 9o days of arrival. Once the couple gets married, the fiance(e) is now able to adjust their status to a permanent resident. It is important to note, that in cases of marriage, there are conditions placed on the permanent residence. Those conditions have to be removed after two years. For help with the fiance(e) visa regardless of whether you are in the US or abroad, contact DC family immigration attorney directly by phone or email to schedule your consultation.
K-1 Fiancee Visa Requirements:
- Both individuals have to be free to legally marry. This means that neither is legally married to another person and both partners are of legal age.
- The petitioner must be a US citizen. A permanent resident is unable to petition for his or her fiance(e).
- The couple must have met in person in the last two years. However, this requirement may be waived if strict religious customs forbid a meeting. Also, the USCIS might waive this requirement if the petitioner can show that it would cause extreme hardship.
- The petitioner and the fiance(e) plan on getting married within 90 days of the fiance(e) coming to US.
K-1 Fiancee Visa Benefits for Same-Sex Couples:
In 2013, the Supreme Court invalidated a key section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), paving the way for same-sex married couples to qualify for immigration benefits on the same basis as the heterosexual couples. The USCIS and Department of State have indicated that they will treat the same-sex marriage “exactly the same as an opposite-sex marriage.” Therefore, K-1 fiance(e) visas are available for same-sex couples.
Children of K-1 Fiance(e)s:
If a K-1 fiance(e) has a child, the child may come to the US with the K-1 fiance(e) parent. The child will receive a K-2 visa. In order to qualify for the K-2, the child has to be under 21 years old and cannot be married. The child does not have to accompany their parents to the US at the same time. This means that the fiance(e) child can join their parent later. A K-2 visa can be issued up to one year after issuance of the K-1 visa. Therefore, a K-2 visa can be issued even if the K-1 parents has already married the US petitioner.
HOW CAN WE HELP?
The Law Offices of Victoria V. Kuzmina provide family Immigration services to clients from all 50 states and worldwide. If you need help or have questions about a family immigration matter, please contact us by phone or email to set up a consultation with our Washington, DC family immigration attorney.