Our Austin Immigration Lawyers

Our Austin Immigration Lawyers

We've been through the U.S. immigration process — and we'll be with you every step of the way.

Immigrating to the U.S. can be complicated and the process can take a long time. There are many options available and Deitchle + Simone can speak to you to assess what will be the correct option for you. Having been through the immigration process ourselves, we understand the emotional toll the process can take — and we will be with you every step of the way to ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible. We understand it is never easy to be away from loved ones.

Based in Austin, we offer immigration law services to Texas individuals and families as well as immigrants located throughout the world. We offer flat fee packages for many visas and also hourly rate services. Learn more below or contact Deitchle + Simone to speak with us about your specific situation and questions.

Family Immigration

One of the most popular ways of immigrating to the U.S. is through a family member. Are you engaged or married to a U.S. citizen or Legal Permanent Resident, a brother or sister of a U.S. citizen or even a parent of a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident? If you have a family member who is a U.S. citizen or green card holder, they may petition for you to immigrate to the U.S.

The Basics: How to Petition for U.S. Immigration for a Foreign National Family Member

  • To begin your petition, a U.S. citizen must legally establish your relationship with the USCIS Form I-130 Petition for an Alien Relative.
  • Then, the Form I-485 Adjustment of Status. In some cases, these forms may be completed together.
  • USCIS will review your application and schedule an interview with you.
  • If all goes well, a Green Card will be issued to you and will be valid for 10 years (in some circumstances, a 2-year conditional green card will be issued first).

Immediate Relatives

To immigrate to the U.S. as an immediate relative, you must fall into one of the following categories:

  • A spouse of a U.S. citizen (including a same sex spouse)
  • An unmarried child under 21 years of age of a U.S. citizen
  • A parent of a U.S. citizen (provided the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years of age)
  • A widower of a U.S. citizen who:
    • was married to and not legally separated from the citizen at the time of the citizen’s death, and
    • entered the marriage in good faith, and not solely to obtain an immigration benefit
    • (other conditions may also apply)

Family Preference Category

If you want to bring a family member other than a fiancé/spouse to the U.S., there is an order of priority with various waiting times attached to each category. There is a cap on the number of visas USCIS will grant for each category and this can mean that there may be a significant wait before your loved one is reunited with you.

The table below summarizes how visas are allocated under the current family preference system.

Table: U.S. Immigration Family Preference Categories

United States Sponsor

Relationship

Preference

United States citizen

Unmarried adult children (21 years or older)

1st

Permanent resident

Spouses and minor children (under age 21)

2A

Permanent resident

Unmarried adult children (21 years or older)

2B

United States citizen

Married adult children

3rd

United States citizen

Brothers and sisters

4th

Priority Dates & Visa Bulletin

All family members applying to immigrate to the United States (with the exception of immediate relatives of U.S. citizens) are given a priority date. The priority date is the date the family member’s I-130 Petition was filed and determines when the family member can apply for U.S. permanent residency.

Each month the U.S. Department of State publishes the Visa Bulletin. The Visa Bulletin shows which priority dates are current. If a family member’s priority date is current, the family member can go ahead and apply for U.S. permanent residency. Click here for the latest bulletin.

Fiancé Visa

If you are engaged to be married to your partner and you wish for them to move to the U.S., you can apply for a fiancé visa. The criteria to qualify for a U.S. fiancé visa are:

  • You are a U.S. citizen
  • You and your fiancé(e) intend to marry one another within 90 days of your fiancé(e)’s admission to the United States on a K-1 nonimmigrant visa
  • You and your fiancé(e) are both legally free to marry (this means you both are legally able to marry in the United States and any previous marriages have been legally terminated by divorce, death, or annulment), and
  • You and your fiancé(e) met each other in person at least once within the 2-year period before you file your petition. You may request a waiver of this in-person meeting requirement if you can show that meeting in person would:
    • Violate strict and long-established customs of your fiancé(e)’s foreign culture or social practice, or
    • Result in extreme hardship to you, the U.S. citizen petitioner

Keep reading to learn more about how to apply for U.S. visas or obtain U.S. citizenship. If you do not see your specific situation or the type of visa you want to apply for, please contact us as our immigration attorneys may still be able to assist you. For example, we also help with Green Card renewals, DACA, waivers of inadmissibility, VAWA, T & U visas, and asylum.

We know the immigration process isn't always easy. We're here to help with legal information and counsel, assistance with documentation and filing, and coordination between the U.S. and family members or U.S. Consulates abroad.

How to Apply for Immigrant Visas

There are two ways to apply for an immigrant visa – by applying for adjustment of status in the United States or by consular processing at a U.S. consulate abroad.

Basic steps to gaining an immigrant visa:

  • Submit I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) or I-140 (Petition for Alien worker) to United States Citizenship and Immigration services (USCIS)
  • Once approved, USCIS sends your petition to the National Visa Center (NVC)
  • The NVC keeps your petition until your priority date is about to become current
  • Once your priority date is current, the relevant visa can be applied for, either by consular processing abroad, or in the United States

Each month, the Department of State releases the Visa Bulletin, which lists current priority dates. If you have a family-based petition, your priority date is the date USCIS received the Form I-130 filed on your behalf. If you have an employment-based petition, your priority date is the date a labor certification application was filed on your behalf. If labor certification was not required in your case, your priority date is the date USCIS received the Form I-140 filed on your behalf.

Unless you have already filed your application for adjustment of status, when your priority date is current the NVC will send you a letter asking whether you would like to apply for your immigrant visa by filing for adjustment of status in the United States or by filing an immigrant visa application with a U.S. consulate abroad.

Persons outside the United States who are applying for an immigrant visa must go through consular processing. Only persons inside the United States are eligible to apply for adjustment of status. However, persons inside the United States may choose to travel abroad and obtain their immigrant visa by consular processing.

Applying for Consular Processing

When your priority date is almost current, the NVC will send you:

  • A fee bill for Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, and
  • Form DS-3032, Agent of Choice and Address (an agent is not required)

Once the NVC receives your Form DS-3032, it will send you or your agent the Immigrant Visa (IV) fee bill.

Once the IV fee bill is paid, the NVC will send you or your agent the Instructions Package for Immigrant Visa Applicants. Although the exact contents of the instructions package depend on which consulate you go to for your visa interview, the package will include Form DS-230, Applicant for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration. You should read the instructions package carefully and make sure you send the right documents to the right place.

Once all the required documents are received and your priority date is current, you will receive an Appointment Package for Immigrant Visa Applicants. This will tell you the date and time for your visa interview at the consulate and give you information about the required medical exam. You and any family members accompanying you to the United States must take a medical exam. You must bring the results of all of the medical exams to your visa interview.

The last step is the visa interview at the consulate. Make sure you bring original or certified copies of all required documents. The consular officer will ask you questions that you must be prepared to answer. They typically like to know about your family, your employment, your health, your immigration history, and any criminal history you may have. You may be asked a lot of questions, or you may be asked only a few. There is no way of knowing what the officer will do so you must be prepared.

You will be required to sign DS-230, Part II in front of the consular officer. Your signature is your promise that the documents you have submitted in support of your application are authentic and the statements you have made on your application are true.

Once you have received your immigrant visa, you must then arrive into the U.S within six months of the visa being issued.

Citizenship through Naturalization

Becoming a citizen of the United States can be a big decision. There are typically two ways a person can become a citizen. Either by birth, or becoming naturalized.

Being a citizen comes with numerous rights and responsibilities. Once you become a citizen you will have the right to vote, be on a jury, obtain a U.S. passport, apply for family members to come to the United States, and run for Federal Office. You will also have the responsibility of supporting and defending the Constitution, participating in the democratic process and serving the country when required.

How to Qualify for U.S. Citizenship by Naturalization

  • You have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years and meet all other eligibility requirements, or
  • You have been a permanent resident for 3 years or more and meet all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen, or
  • You have qualifying service in the U.S. armed forces and meet all other eligibility requirements, or
  • Your child may qualify for naturalization if you are a U.S. citizen, the child was born outside the U.S., the child is currently residing outside the U.S., and all other eligibility requirements are met
  • Everyone that applies for naturalization must pass an English and civics/history test

Speak with an Austin Immigration Lawyer

Even when the steps to immigrate seem straightforward, we know how complex the details can become. Our lawyers successfully completed the immigration process, themselves, and we're here to help you with each legal step on your path to the U.S. We offer flat fee packages for many visas and also hourly rate services. For more information, contact Deitchle + Simone.

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