Houston Family Immigration Lawyer
We are in the business of bringing families together.
When it comes to family visas, two groups of people are eligible: immediate relatives and relatives in family preference categories. Relatives can immigrate to the United States via petitions submitted by legal permanent residents or US citizens. While visas are available upon approval for immediate relatives, resulting in a relatively quick process, it is often a long-term process for family members in the preference categories that requires patience, know-how, and expert guidance. That is where our team of experienced experts becomes an invaluable resource. We have the knowledge, endurance, and dedication to keep the process moving.
In addition, future relatives, such as the fiancé of a US citizen or an orphan who will be adopted by a US family, may be eligible for a family-based visa. The entire team at The Law Office of Lindsey J. Harris has a passion for families, and we’ll work hard to defend your interests during the immigration process. We put more than ten years of experience to work for you, taking the time to understand your situation and create opportunities for you to reunite with family.
Family-based Immigration Categories And Information
Fiancé Visas and K1 Visas
A U.S. citizen may petition to bring their foreign fiancé(e) to the United States to get married. The first step is to file the I-129F fiancé visa petition with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). When the petition is approved, the case will be transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC) for the next step in the process in obtaining the non-immigrant K-1 Fiance visa.
After the approved fiancé petition is transferred to the NVC, the DS-160 non-immigrant visa application must be submitted, and an appointment will be set for a visa interview at the US Embassy or Consulate where the foreign fiancé resides. At the visa interview, a US consular officer will determine if the fiancé relationship is genuine and confirm that all eligibility requirements have been met. If your fiancé(e) successfully passes the visa interview step, he or she will be issued a K-1 visa for travel to the US.
To complete the fiancé visa process, the US citizen petitioner and foreign fiancé must marry within 90 days of the fiancé’s arrival to America. After the marriage, your fiancé may apply for a green card through a process called adjustment of status.
Adopting a child from overseas may seem like a distant dream, but your dream of becoming a parent can become a reality sooner than you think! The adoption and immigration professionals at The Law Office of Lindsey J. Harris have achieved unmatched success for parents adopting children through the Orphan Adoption Process and we are ready to guide you through this wonderful, life-changing experience!
Currently, around 100 countries are members of the Hague Adoption Convention while the remainder of countries are referred to as “Non-Hague Countries.” Our law office handles both Hague and Non-Hague orphan adoptions and has gained notoriety for handling adoptions from historically difficult countries like Egypt. Our managing attorney, Lindsey J. Harris, handled the only successful adoption from Egypt in 2017 and one of only three adoptions from Egypt in 2016.
The international adoption process can be challenging but our expert legal team is more than ready to facilitate the adoption and arrival of your child. The experienced professionals at The Law Office of Lindsey J. Harris will assist you with determining if a prospective adoptive child is considered an orphan under US immigration law, locating an accredited home study provider, preparing your immigration case, handling consular processing and the arrival of your child in the US. Our law office also handles domestic adoptions in the State of Texas. Contact us today to start your adoption journey!
Removal of Conditions on Permanent Residence
When a beneficiary becomes a permanent resident through the marriage to a US citizen or US legal permanent resident, the length of the marriage determines which type of green card will be granted. If a green card applicant and their US spouse have been married for over two years at the time of the green card interview, the spouse will receive a 10-year permanent green card. However, if the marriage is less than two years old at the time of the green card interview, the immigrant spouse will receive a 2-year conditional green card.
A 2-year conditional green card holder must apply to “remove conditions” within the 90 days period before the two-year anniversary of becoming a permanent resident. This is done by filing Form I-751 and providing evidence that the green card holder and US spouse have continued their bona fide marital relationship. If the I-751 petition is approved, the beneficiary spouse will receive a 10-year green card and may apply for citizenship after three years of being an LPR (one year after removing conditions).
Immediate Relative Petitions
Immigration for immediate relatives of US Citizens may adjust their status to become permanent residents while they are in the US, without leaving the country. Immediate relatives may also apply for an immigrant visa overseas. When your relative travels to the U.S. on their immigrant visa, they will automatically become permanent residents upon admission.
The U.S. immigration code defines immediate relates to include the following family members:
- The spouses of U.S. citizens,
- The children (unmarried and under 21 years of age) of U.S. citizens,
- The parents of U.S. citizens at least 21 years old, and
- Widows or widowers of U.S. citizens if the U.S. citizen filed a petition before his or her death or if the widow(er) files a petition within 2 years of the citizen’s death.
There are no numerical limits on how many immigrant visas can be issued for immediate relatives each year, so as soon as immediate relative applications are processed, an immigrant visa will be available for your family member. This is a different process – and a much faster one – than the process for obtaining a visa for a relative in one of the preference categories, which often involve long wait times for visas spanning years or decades.
B1/B2 Visitor Visa
The B-2 visa for tourism is typically issued in the form of a five-year, multiple entry visa. Travelers to the U.S. are often granted a period of six months to stay in the U.S. for tourist purposes. Visitor visa extensions of up to one year are available in some cases. The visitor visa is a great way to visit U.S. family members on a temporary basis.
Common types of tourist activities permitted on the B-2 visa include Vacation (holiday), visit with friends or relatives, participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations, participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating.
Tourists are allowed to own business assets in the U.S. such as vacation homes or rental properties which generate profit. However, visitors are not allowed to work during their stay. In addition, B-2 visitors and family members holding B visas are not allowed to enroll in school while in the U.S.
Visitors may wish to apply for a combination B-1/B-2 visitor visa, which allows for business and pleasure visits to the U.S. The combination B-1/B-2 visa is among the most common types of visa issues to international visitors.
Like the B-2 Visa, the B-1 visa for business visitors is typically issued as a five-year, multiple entry visa and travelers are usually granted a period of six months to stay in the U.S. for business purposes. B-1 visitor visa extensions of up to one year are available in some cases.
Common types of business activities permitted on the B-1 visa include meetings with business associates, attendance of scientific, educational, professional, or business conventions or conferences, settle of an estate, negotiation of a business or sales contract. While business visitors are allowed to own business assets in the U.S. which generate profit, visitors are not allowed to work during their stay. In addition, business visitors and family members holding B visas are not allowed to enroll in school while in the U.S.
Visitors who are travelling to the U.S. for medical treatment will receive a B-2 tourist visa, which may be issued in the form of a five-year, multiple entry visa. Visitors seeking medical treatment are often granted a period of six months to stay in the U.S. for their medical treatment.
Visa extensions are available in most cases when a visiting patient’s physician recommends a longer course of treatment beyond the period of authorized stay.
Visitors who apply for a B-2 visa for medical treatment must be able to demonstrate that the treatment of their ailment is not available in their home country and that a U.S. physician has agreed to provide medical treatment. Visitors must also be able to demonstrate their ability to pay for treatment, travel and accommodations in the U.S.
Preference Category Relative Petitions
If your family member is not considered an immediate relative under the US immigration code, they may be in a preference category and eligible for a visa after a certain period of time. The “Visa Bulletin” is a US Department of State publication which is updated monthly to inform the public as to when visas will be available for the preference categories. When the priority date becomes current for a relative in a preference category, a visa should be available at that time and the family member would be able to proceed with the final steps of their immigration process.
Since each preference category is subject to different numerical limitations for visa issuance each year, wait times vary. For example, it could take 13 years for a sibling of a US citizen (F-4) to be eligible for a visa after filing their petition whereas unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens over age 21 (F-1) may have a visa available 6 years after filing.
Relatives who are eligible for family-based immigration but who are in preference categories include:
- F-1 Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens (over age 21)
- F-2A Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents
- F-2B Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents
- F-3 Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens
- F-4 Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens
Please visit the US Department of State’s Visa Bulletin page at the following link for up-to date information regarding visa availability for relatives in the family preference categories: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin.html
If certain eligibility requirements are met, the spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizen petitioners may apply for a provisional waiver for unlawful presence before they leave the United States for their consular interview.
Immigrants who entered the U.S without inspection or those who overstayed their visas are not eligible to adjust their status in the United States and must travel abroad to obtain an immigrant visa, and subsequently re-enter the U.S. to become permanent residents.
Individuals who have accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence in the U.S., due to visa overstay or entry without inspection, will face a 3-year bar to re-entry and they must obtain a waiver to overcome the three-year bar. Those who have accrued 365 days or more of unlawful presence face a 10-year bar to re-entry and must obtain a waiver to overcome the ten-year bar.
In the past, immigrants subject to the three and ten-year bars would have to apply for a waiver abroad at a U.S. Embassy or consulate as art of the visa application process. However, after 2013, immigrants subject to the re-entry bars may complete the provisional unlawful presence waiver process inside the US. This allows eligible immediate relatives who are statutorily eligible for an immigrant visa to apply for a provisional waiver inside the United States before they leave for their immigrant visa interview abroad.
The provisional waiver process consists of three main steps:
- Submit the I-130 petition for your immediate relative and wait for approval.
- Apply for the I-601A provisional waiver for unlawful presence and wait for approval.
- Your relative will travel to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad in their home country to attend the immigrant visa interview.
- Upon receiving their visa, your relative will travel to the U.S to become a legal permanent resident upon arrival.
The provisional waiver process is beneficial because it allows for less separation time for families and provides a better option for relatives who are afraid to travel outside the U.S. due to the possibility of facing the three or ten-year bars to re-entry. We are in the business of keeping families together and will expertly assist you and your loved ones through the provisional waiver process!
Citizenship & Naturalization
US Citizenship Through Parents
In general, any person born on US soil is considered a natural born US citizen and will receive a US birth certificate and may apply for a US passport. However, some people have difficulties proving that they were born in the US because their parents were undocumented or perhaps, they were not born in a formal hospital setting. We can help you prove your US citizenship through secondary sources like witness testimony, baptismal records & medical or academic records.
Children born abroad may also acquire US citizenship at birth if one or both parents are US citizens and other requirements are met. If a child is born to US citizen parent while abroad, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) should immediately be filed with the local US Embassy in the country where the child was born so that the child’s birth may be properly documented and US Citizenship may be confirmed.
Not all persons having U.S. Citizen parents are eligible for citizenship automatically. The immigration laws in effect at the time of the person’s birth will determine their eligibility for U.S. citizenship and must be carefully examined to determine which procedure is appropriate for each situation. In general, persons who have a parent who becomes a U.S. citizen after their birth and before they reach age 18 will have a pathway to citizenship but must first enter the U.S. as a legal permanent resident.
Contact our experienced legal team today for an assessment of your situation to determine if you acquired citizenship at birth or if you may be eligible for permanent residence based on your parent’s status as a U.S. Citizen.
US Citizenship by Marriage
Marriage to a U.S. citizen is one of the most common ways that foreign nationals gain U.S. citizenship. If you have been married to the same U.S. citizen spouse for at least three years, you may apply for naturalization if all statutory requirements are met.
Naturalization applicants whose eligibility is based on marriage to their U.S. citizen spouse must meet the three-year physical presence & continuous residence requirements, demonstrate good moral character, and must pass the US civics and English exams at their citizenship interview. If you have a disability or if you meet certain age requirements, you may be exempt from the English and US Civics exams at your citizenship interview.
If you acquired your permanent residency (green card) through marriage and believe that you are eligible for US citizenship, contact us today to evaluate your case.
US Citizenship Through Other Relatives
Legal permanent residents who received their green card through one of the family-based immigration preference categories, through adult U.S. citizen sons and daughters, or through U.S. citizen parents must generally wait five years after receiving their green card to apply for US citizenship.
Naturalization applicants whose eligibility is based on five years of legal permanent resident status must satisfy the five-year physical presence & continuous residence requirements, demonstrate good moral character, and must pass the US civics and English exams at their citizenship interview. If you have a disability or if you meet certain age requirements, you may be exempt from the English and US Civics exams at your citizenship interview.
Contact our legal team today to apply for U.S. citizenship!
Together is the best place to be
We approach every client as an individual, understanding that every situation is unique. We won’t slow you down with cookie-cutter solutions and tone-deaf advice. Instead, we’ll work steadily to understand your situation and help you make the most of it. Let us be your ally on the journey to family reunification.
Contact a Houston Family Immigration Lawyer to Learn more.
Our Houston family-based immigration attorneys will guide you through the process of acquiring family visas. We are here to answer questions you may have about forms and documents, application submittals, and the overall process of family-based immigration. Contact us at +1 (832) 203-8750 or fill out the contact form to speak with an attorney.