In Florida

In Georgia

9250 Baymeadows Road, Suite 440, Jacksonville, Florida 32256

4555 Mansell Road, Suite 300, Alpharetta, Georgia 30022

(904) 278-1744

(770) 587-9770



























Family reunification is the cornerstone of our legal immigration policy. It is truly one of the most visible areas in government policy in which we support and strengthen family values. Family unification translates into strong families who build strong communities.

Immigration through family reunification is a two-step process.  The first step is the filing of a petition by the American citizen or resident relative with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration.  This establishes that the qualifying relationship exists and sets the “Priority Date”, or place in line, for quota immigrants (see below).

The second step is application for adjustment of status or for an immigrant visa abroad.  The choice depends on whether the prospective immigrant is in the United States legally or his or her home country.  If the immigrant is here legally (with some exceptions), he or she can apply for adjustment of status with USCIS.  If the applicant is abroad, the preferred procedure is to apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in the home country.    The government will conduct an interview to determine if the applicant can immigrate to the U.S., and if the application is approved, the relative will be made a permanent resident.

Generally, spouses and minor children of both citizens and permanent residents have the right to immigrate (although relatives of permanent residents are under an annual quota).  Parents of U.S. citizens over 21 can also immigrate without waiting for a quota. 

More distant relatives of U.S. citizens, such as brothers and sisters, adult and married children, and their dependents are also eligible to immigrate, but have to wait for their turn through the quota system.

The Quota System

Since the 1920s, the U.S. has imposed quotas, or limitations on the number of legal immigrants each year from each country. For many immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, this does not present a problem.  Spouses and minor children of citizens (including some adopted children) can immigrate without any limitations, as can parents of U.S. citizens over 21 years old.  Fiancees of American citizens are also permitted to enter through this process, although there are very specific requirements.

But for the rest, there are limitations, and they can result in very long waits.  These waits vary by country of nationality and preference (see below).  For this reason, it is important for the American citizen or resident to file a petition as soon as possible, so that the relative can have the earliest possible place in line.

Who Can't Immigrate?

Some people, though, are not eligible either to adjust status or obtain an immigrant visa.  Besides obvious problems like a criminal record, security problems, and fraud, a law called the “Illegal Immigrant Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996” (IIRAIRA) prohibits a person from obtaining residence if he or she has been in the country illegally for more than six months, and bans such a person from entering the U.S. for three years after leaving (ten years if the applicant was in the U.S. illegally for more than a year). 

Other laws ban those who entered the U.S. illegally from becoming permanent residents except in very rare cases, and prohibit those who have been deported from reentering the U.S. without advance permission.  If you think any of these categories might apply to you, it is important to discuss your situation with an attorney before filing any immigration application.



Important notice: This site presents information about U.S. immigration procedures in a general way.  It is not legal advice, which we can only give after a careful review of your specific situation.


Benjamin Lowe, Esq. is admitted to practice only in the state of Florida.

The hiring of an attorney is an important decision which should not be based on advertisements alone. 

Please contact us free information about our qualifications and experience.