You have worked hard to establish yourself in this country and made huge personal sacrifices. Or perhaps you have fallen in love with a foreign national and want to bring them to this country so you can get married. If these or a similar story of a loved one living abroad describes your situation, it may be time to pursue a family-based immigration visa for them.
Which family members can I bring to California?
As a U.S. citizen or someone with lawful permanent resident status (i.e., a “green card”) who is at least 21 years old, you can sponsor certain relatives for an immigrant visa:
- A citizen can sponsor their spouse, children, parents and siblings
- A permanent resident can sponsor their spouse and their unmarried children
These relatives are listed above by the law’s order of priority. This means that immigration authorities will give a visa for your spouse or children higher priority than one for your mother or brother. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also gives higher priority to family-based visa petitions sponsored by a U.S. citizen over a permanent resident. USCIS issues a limited number of visas per year, so it may be several years before a lower-priority relative is granted one.
Bringing your fiancé/fiancée to the U.S.
If you are engaged to be married, your future spouse can apply for a temporary visa so they can come to this country for the wedding. Once you and your spouse are married, your spouse must apply for a green card. The process of receiving permanent residency status can be long, but as long as the application is in process, your spouse can remain in this country, subject to certain rules.
Don’t try to go through the visa process by yourself
Applying for a visa is a complicated process with many required forms. A mistake on a form or a late filing can force you to start over again. An immigration attorney can help you avoid common errors and bring your loved ones to Los Angeles as quickly as possible.