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I-824: How to Bring Your Family to the U.S. Quick
Did you recently become a U.S. permanent resident and are you also looking for a way to get your immediate family here? Do you long to be reunited with your spouse and children here in the land of opportunity? There might be a way that you can do this!
Filing a Form I-824 could help you to get your immediate family members the visa they need to come to the U.S. This is what you can do to get them here.
What is Form I-824?
The U.S. government is actually very mindful of immigrants and their families. So much so, they have created a form that helps grant foreigners the visa they need to reunite with their family members in the U.S.
Form I-824 is also called a Follow-to-Join process. Its formal name is the “Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition”. This means immediate family members of a U.S. permanent resident may follow them to the U.S. through this special type of visa. Only a certain group of specific people can enjoy the benefit of a Form I-824, however.
Who Needs Form I-824
Many types of visa petitions in the U.S. require someone from within the U.S. to file a petition on behalf of the person who needs the visa. It’s the same with an I-824. Only a U.S. permanent resident can file on behalf of their immediate family members.
Only spouses and children of U.S. permanent residents are also eligible for the form. Children must be unmarried and under the age of 21 to be eligible. Importantly, the permanent resident spouse or parent (the principal applicant) files the I-824 on behalf of his immediate relatives.
The principal applicant can only file an I-824 if they already have their Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status. They can’t file a petition if their LPR petition is still in processing. The marriage also needs to take place and children must be born before the LPR status was granted to the principal applicant. With this process, the principal applicant may not be a U.S. citizen. This scenario requires a different type of visa petition for immediate relatives.
To qualify, the principal applicant must get their LPR status through one of the following visas:
- (E) Employment-based category
- (F) Family-preference category
- Green Card lottery (diversity visa lottery)
- K or V visa
Families who can’t fulfill the requirements above won’t be eligible for the form. There might be alternative ways to reunite your family, however. You can always ask for the expert advice of a U.S. registered immigration attorney if you need more information.
Documents Needed to Complete an I-824
Just like when applying for a loan for an immigrant, the process requires specific documentation. You can’t just rock up at the border and expect a visa.
Here are the documents you need to add to your I-824 petition:
- Form I-824 – the form itself required to log the petition.
- Birth certificates – one for each child being applied for.
- Identification documents – required to verify the identity of each person involved in the petition.
- Marriage certificate – the legal document that verifies the marital union. Also include more evidence of a bona fide marriage like wedding albums, communication that proves a relationship, and possibly statements from family and friends.
- Copy of Green Card – proof of the principal applicant’s Green Card. Include copies of both the front and back.
- Passports – copies of the beneficiaries’ passports.
- Copy of the previous I-485 – the principal applicant’s application for permanent resident status.
- Copy of I-140 – the petition filed to get an alien worker (the principal applicant) to come to the U.S. (if applicable).
- Copy of I-797C – the Notice of Receipt confirming the USCIS received the principal applicant’s initial application for LPR status.
- Copy of I-797 – the Notice of Approval confirming the principal applicant’s LPR status.
- Payment – the USCIS accepts money order, personal check, cashier’s check, and credit card payments. Make sure you include payment in some acceptable format.
These documents prove to the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) the beneficiaries’ eligibility for a Form I-824 petition. It also helps to prove the principal applicant’s identity and LPR status.
How to Complete Form I-824
The USCIS has an extensive instructional document that explains how to complete the Form I-824. Use that and the expert advice of an immigration attorney to make sure you complete and include all required information.
Your situation is unique and may need different kinds of documentation and a professional can help you with your application. Here are the basic steps to filing an I-824 for your immediate family members.
Only applications from eligible applicants and beneficiaries are considered. Make sure you are indeed eligible for this type of visa application. Read the eligibility criteria supplied earlier and make sure you comply.
File Your Application
Download a copy of the I-824 from the USCIS website and complete it. Read through their instruction manual on how to do it. Or ask an immigration attorney to assist you. Remember to include all required proof and documentation that supports your case. Please remember to sign your application. Any unsigned applications are rejected by the USCIS.
You can file a Form G-1145 (Request for e-Notification) if you want the USCIS to contact you via email about your application. This will help keep you updated about when they receive your application.
Depending on your situation, your family either needs to complete interviews at a U.S. consulate or embassy. Or they’ll visit the nearest designated USCIS office. The USCIS will inform you about these interviews. Your family members need to complete a type of biometric screening test and personal interviews with a consular officer before they can get a visa.
Get Your Visas
Wait for the process to run its course. In time you’ll know about the outcome of the application. This category doesn’t have a limit on the number of visas available per year. All you need to do is work with the USCIS to complete the application process as fast as possible.
Where to Submit Your Form I-824
Some people file from abroad and others file from within America. Use the addresses provided on the USCIS website to find your applicable filing address. Make sure you send it to the right address to avoid losing time to silly errors.
I-824 Filing Fees
The USCIS accepts payment in many ways. They take money orders, personal checks, cashier checks, and even credit card payments too. Just make sure you pay properly with your credit card especially if you file at a USCIS Lockbox.
The Form I-824 has a filing fee of $465. Keep your receipt to serve as proof of payment for future reference.
I-824 Processing Time
The full review of your circumstances may take longer than 6 months. So wait at least 90 days before you make an inquiry about the status of your application. You can mail your inquiries about your application to [email protected]. Supply enough details about your case to get a detailed report on the status of your application. Supply your full name, date of birth, and case number. Other types of Green Card holders’ spouses may have to wait longer.
The U.S. government is adamant about keeping immigrant families together. They’ve created a way to reunite immediate family members to their LPR spouse/parent in the U.S. Use the information provided here to see if you are eligible for this type of visa.
Follow the instructions provided above and file your Form I-824 application to get your family reunited in the U.S. with valid visas.