Virginia Family Immigration Lawyer

Families may be reunited in NoVa through the immigration process. This is wonderful when the process works efficiently and exasperating when it does not.

To help ensure that requirements are fulfilled right from the start, many people choose to work with a Virginia family immigration lawyer. An experienced immigration attorney could guide you through the process, provide advice at all stages, and work to help resolve any delays or difficulties that arise.

Family Members Who May Petition for a Relative

Family relationships provide the basis for some but not all family members to apply for an immigrant visa to the United States. An immigrant visa is a permanent visa that enables the holder to be a lawful permanent resident or LPR of the U.S.

Green Cards

LPRs receive identifications cards with a greenish background and years ago these cards were printed on green paper, so they are often referred to as Green Card holders. Lawful permanent residents are able to live and work legally in the U.S.

Family Members of Citizens

The process of family immigration usually begins with a relative filing a petition for an alien relative with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). A U.S. citizen may file on behalf of a:

  • Husband or wife
  • Sister or brother
  • Son or daughter
  • Mother or father

Children and siblings related by adoption or through a step-parent may also be eligible although additional documentation requirements apply. Unfortunately, a citizen may not file a petition on behalf of an aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, grandparent, grandchild, cousin or in-law.

Other Family Situations

Lawful permanent residents may also file an immigration petition but only for a spouse or unmarried child. In addition, U.S. citizens may petition for a fiancé(e) to receive a temporary visa to cover the period until the wedding takes place and the fiancé(e) becomes eligible for LPR status as a spouse. For more information, consult with a knowledgeable family immigration lawyer in NoVa.


In many situations, the family member filing the petition also serves as the sponsor of the prospective immigrant. The sponsor will fill out an Affidavit of Support pledging to provide financial support to the immigrating relative until the relative becomes a U.S. citizen or has worked in the U.S. for approximately ten years. If the immigrant receives need-based aid from the government, the sponsor may be required to pay it back because the sponsor has pledged to provide financial support. Sponsorship establishes a legal obligation that may be enforced by a court

Priorities of Application Processing

Family relationships receive different weight when it comes to the processing of immigration petitions. The number of immigrant visas is limited each year by law, and there are many more applicants than available spaces. So, the government has established a system of categories and priorities.

Those considered immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, meaning spouses, unmarried minor children and parents, are not subject to numerical limitations so their visas are a top priority and they do not have to wait for a visa to be available.

Remaining visas are granted to unmarried adult children, qualifying relatives of LPRs, married children of U.S. citizens, and siblings of U.S. citizens in that order. So those in the lowest preference category may have to wait many years before their visa applications are considered current and ready for processing.

Priority is based on the date a petition is filed, so even if it takes longer for the initial petition to be processed, that will usually not delay the eventual processing of the visa application itself.

Get Help from a Virginia Family Immigration Attorney Today

Mistakes in the petitioning or application process may delay or even prevent a family member from immigrating. So, it is wise for those seeking a family visa to be aware of all requirements, provide answers that are comprehensible and complete, and avoid taking actions that can jeopardize an immigrant petition or visa application.

A Virginia family immigration lawyer could help at any stage of the process, whether you are just researching the requirements or have encountered delays and want to know if there is action you can take to resolve a problem. For information about assistance from a family immigration lawyer, call now for a consultation.