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The Overseas Immigration Process for Family Members

Immigrants are processed through Embassies and Consulates of the United States throughout the world every day of the year. Understanding the process of legal residence for a person through what we call "Consular Processing" is incredibly important. Due to COVID-19, wait times for interviews worldwide have skyrocketed - what used to take months can now take years to accomplish. These delays cause families to be separated, important life events missed, and worry from all involved. Understanding what happens when someone applies for their family members can make the process easier to handle for all involved.

What is an Immediate Relative?

This information concerns the immigration process for immediate relatives. Immigration officials define immediate relatives as:

  • A spouse of a US Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident;

  • A child under the age of 21 - biological, step, or adopted - of a US Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident

  • A parent of a US Citizen (Legal Residents cannot petition for the parents)

All other categories of persons (brothers or sisters of US Citizens, children over 21 years old, etc) are considered preference class immigrants. The rules for immigration for those people will be covered elsewhere.

Who Needs to Process Overseas?

Two categories of immediate relatives need to process overseas. They are:

  • Immediate relatives who live overseas and have never come to the United States previously; and

  • Immediate relatives who entered the US without being inspected, and require a proper entry to the United States for residence.

For immediate relatives who are currently overseas, the process is fairly straightforward. Once a petition is approved by USCIS, the case is sent for processing to the National Visa Center. Additional filings are made to the National Visa Center and when the case is documentarily qualified, the case is sent into queue for interview scheduling. These days, interview scheduling queues can be more than twelve months of wait, frustrating everyone involved.

Immediate relatives who live in the US and entered without being inspected cannot adjust their status in the US. These relatives must leave the United States and have a proper interview for admission in their home country. What complicates this is when they leave, their unlawful stay in the United States triggers a bar to returning for a certain period of time - either three years, ten years, or a permanent bar. Aliens in this situation need competent counsel to file the appropriate paperwork to forgive this unlawful presence and allow a rapid return to the United States.

In 2013, the overseas process for unlawful entrants was significantly changed and streamlined. Individuals with proper representation can do the bulk of the work on their cases while still in the United States, and only travel home for weeks, instead of months or years.

Hire a Lawyer with Experience for Your Case.

William Quirk specializes in the process of bringing relatives back from overseas processing. He has helped hundreds of families through this process. He has practiced and received approvals for individuals from Africa, Asia, Europe, South and Central America whose lives have changed overnight because of their new status as a legal resident of the United States. He has reunited families and given hope to those who were hopeless. If you are considering the process for immigration for a relative that involves overseas processing, you need someone like Bill on your side. He will sit with you, review the case, explain the issues apparent, and give you an honest appraisal of the possibilities.

The overseas immigrant visa process is a multiple year process with many intricate steps. You need to seek out a lawyer who has handled these cases from start to finish. William can help your family member earn their residence.

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