The immigration process can be long, tedious, and stringent for any applicant. But it’s common knowledge that the process can be sped up and made easier if the applicant has a relative who is a citizen of the United States.
But they can’t just be any relative. According to immigration rules, one must be an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen in order to receive the special considerations reserved for this family category.
What is an Immediate Relative in the Immigration Process?
In immigration terms, an immediate relative can be classified into three groups of people:
- The spouse of a U.S. citizen
- The parent of a U.S. citizen
- The minor child (less than 21 years old) of a U.S. citizen
Other than the aforementioned, no one else can be considered an immediate relative in the eyes of immigration.
Immigration Perks of Being an Immediate Relative of a U.S. Citizen
Being an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen grants an applicant special consideration from the immigration service. This comes in the form of the following perks.
1. An immediate relative is not subject to the priority dates on the Visa Bulletin.
The processing times for most U.S. visa applications rely on the Visa Bulletin, which indicates a priority date for adjudicating immigration cases. This means that applications will have to wait for a green card to be available, which can take several years.
An immediate relative, however, is not subject to the Visa Bulletin. There is always a green card available for them and they don’t have to wait in the queue.
2. Any unauthorized work is forgiven by the immigration service.
Any person who is not under U.S. citizen or permanent resident status will require permission from the immigration service to work. Otherwise, they face serious repercussions. That’s not the case for immediate relatives, as the immigration service is more forgiving of unauthorized work when it comes to this family category.
However, that’s not to say that immediate relatives should go ahead and work without permission or brag about it in their immigration interview. Unauthorized work is still highly frowned upon. But in case of mistakes, the immigration service is less stringent about punishing immediate relatives for it.
3. Overstaying a visa is forgiven by the immigration service.
The immigration service also tends to forgive immediate relatives for overstaying their visas. If they entered the U.S. with a tourist visa, for example, and stayed past the allowable time, they don’t face the risk of being barred from entering the U.S.
This does not apply to people who enter the U.S. without inspection, such as by crossing the border without permission from the USCIS.
4. Immediate relatives are put in the fastest line in U.S. embassies and consulates around the world.
Aside from not being bound by the processing times in the Visa Bulletin, immediate relatives are also given priority in U.S. embassies and consulates around the world. Their cases are going to be filed under the fastest line, which shortens the timeframes of adjudicating their applications.