Family Petitions Overview

Family Petitions Overview

There are several categories of family-based immigration petitions.  Examples include spousal applications, parents applying for their children or individuals applying for siblings, to name a few.  This article is intended only to serve as an overview of the more commonly-seen petitions.

Applying for a Spouse

If you are a lawful permanent resident (LPR) or U.S. citizen (USC), you can file an immigrant visa petition for your spouse.  The general requirements include filing of the relevant form with filing fee, as well as proof of the relationship and the petitioner’s own status.  If either party was previously divorced, a divorce decree must also be submitted.

There is no waiting period when a USC applies for his or her spouse.  There is typically, however, a waiting period when a LPR applies for his or her spouse.  This is because demand for these immigrant visas often exceeds supply.  U.S. regulations impose annual limits on the numbers of people coming into the country.  Certain countries will have a longer waiting list than others for the simple reason that more people from these countries are seeking entry than the quota allows in a given year.

Additional important evidence in this category is proof of a bona fide (good faith) marriage.  This evidence is required to prove that the marriage was entered into legitimately and not for purposes of acquiring status through a fraudulent marriage.

Applying for a Child or Sibling

As a U.S. citizen, it is possible to file an immigrant visa application for your child.  It doesn’t matter if your child is still a minor or above 21, and perhaps even married.  However, the time period that the application process will take changes significantly depending on the age and civil status of your child.

As a lawful permanent resident, you may file only for unmarried children, regardless of their age.  There is typically a waiting list in this category.

For immigration purposes, a “child” is defined as an unmarried person under 21 years of age.  A “son” or “daughter” is defined as a person who is married or is 21 years old or older.

There are additional considerations when the relationship was created through re-marriage (step-parents/step-children) or adoption (not discussed here).

If you wish to apply for your sibling, you must be a U.S. citizen.   There is no category for lawful permanent residents who wish to apply for their sibling.  Again, in each of these scenarios, required evidence includes the relevant form and filing fee, as well as proof of the relationship.

Filing From Within The United States or From Overseas

The application processes will also differ if the applicant is already in the United States or if he or she is overseas.  The proof of relationship is a constant, however.  Otherwise, forms, fees and timing will be vastly different.


This article is intended only to be a brief overview of the application procedure for family petitions.  The relevant considerations are complex and cannot be thoroughly explained here.  Some considerations include location of the parties, age of the applicant, custody, nature of the relationship, timing, civil status and how the petitioner may have acquired status in the United States.  It would be appropriate to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to discuss eligibility and the best possible method to achieve family unity in the United States.  We would be happy to assist in this regard.



Who is Castro Law Offices, P.C.?

**Castro Law Offices, P.C. is no longer offering Immigration Law Services.** We are a premier California law firm that focuses on family law in English & Spanish. Castro Law Offices, P.C. is based in Novato, California, but is ready and able to provide legal services and advice to clients in and around Marin County including Novato, San Rafael, Greenbrae, San Anselmo, Fairfax, Sausalito, Larkspur, West Marin, Ross, Mill Valley and Corte Madera. Contact Castro Law Offices, P.C. today to schedule a confidential consultation!



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