By Annette Quijada
The Dream Resource Center teamed up with the Central American Resource Center to discuss family based immigration petitions. This panel focused on giving insight regarding essential information to family members or spouses, who must know if they are looking into immigration petitions.
The panel was led by DRC Coordinator Elizandro Umaña, alongside a few others of the DRC staff.
Umaña introduced Managing Attorney Julie Mitchell, who’s provided legal services for 15 years at CARECEN in Los Angeles to help the immigrant community.
Mitchell’s currently overseeing immigration services at 16 colleges and universities, which includes ELAC.
In Mitchell’s presentation, she explained family based immigration petitions, which are for a family member to be able to receive a green card or citizenship.
It’s important to note that these petitions don’t guarantee that the family member will obtain legal status, Mitchell says.
“People that can file petitions are citizens and green card holders.Citizens can petition their parents, spouse, siblings, children under 21, and children over 21.
Green card holders can petition spouses and their children.”
She also said that the petitioner citizen must be over 21 years of age, another vital part of petitions is the process.
Mitchell said that the process depends on 3 things: the petitioners status (resident or citizen), the relationship of the petitioner and family member and what country the applicant is from.
She suggests that those waiting take a look at Visa bulletins. She said, “A Visa bulletin comes over every month and it basically lets people know where in the line they’re at with their family petition.”
It’ll give those waiting a time frame in which they should expect to hear something back about their applications. These bulletins can be found on travel.state.gov.
Mitchell then moves on to talking about what to expect once a petition is put into the system.
“(The petitioner) must prove that they themselves either have a green card or are a citizen. And that they have a qualifying relationship with the family member. (Once accepted) the next part is using the petition for residency.The vast majority have to go abroad to complete the residency process. Part three is the interview of the family member to go through all of their eligibility. After assuming they were able to get their residency green card then they’re looking at a 3-5 year wait to apply for citizenship,” she said.
Although the process seems pretty simple, Mitchell believes that the biggest obstacle is the amount of time the process actually takes.
“Most petitions are submitted, and then waiting a few years and in cases of really long categorizes 20-25 years. It’s a terrible and very slow system. Family based immigration laws is a series of laws that they come up with through the years that build on top of each other that don’t really interact well with each other. And they prevent a lot of people from moving forward with their cases,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said that it’s important for people to consult with an attorney instead of taking cases on their own because having a family member petition for them is not enough.
The process comes with many challenges and new requirements appear all the time. Those who have any questions regarding personal cases revolving around immigration can schedule an appointment at https://carecenla.simplybook.me