As a Miami immigration attorney handling family-based petitions, I sometimes have clients asking me if more than one person can file for the same immigrant. To that, I would say that the short answer is yes, a foreign national who has more than one close relative in the U.S. with U.S. citizenship or permanent residence status need not choose only one of them to start the immigration process (leading eventually to a green card) for him or her. For the purposes of the immigration process, any or all of the person’s U.S. relatives can serve as “petitioner.”

It goes without saying that only a limited number of family relationships potentially qualify a foreign-born person to receive a green card.

Who Should File the I-130 Petition for the Immigrant?

As with all cases, different fact patterns require different strategies. Barring any other extenuating circumstances, a Miami family-based immigration attorney may tell you that the United States relative who can get the immigrant a green card in the shortest amount of time, is usually the one who files the I-130 petition for the immigrant.

This is because different family relationships may lead to a U.S. green card at different rates of speed. “Immediate relatives”, for example, include the spouse, parent, or unmarried child of a U.S. citizen. No annual limits apply in the immediate relative category, so the beneficiary’s application for a green card will be processed as a function of the U.S. government’s bureaucracy and application requirements allow.

On the other hand, all other family relationships that qualify a foreign national to immigrate fall into the “preference” categories, in which the law limits the numbers of immigrant visas or green cards given out each year. Due to high demand for U.S. green cards, the upper limit is invariably reached, leading to waits of many years in each category.

The sibling category (brother or sister) of a U.S. citizen, commonly has a of  ten years or more for an available visa.

As such, I would highly recommend that you and/or your loved one meet with a Miami immigration attorney to determine which family relationship will get the foreign national a green card the fastest. Following that determination, your immigration attorney may make sure  that the appropriate petitioner files  an I-130 on the immigrant’s behalf.

What Happens if the Petitioner Dies, or Loses Interest in Helping the Immigrant?

If one of the potential petitioners is the intending immigrant’s immediate relative, so that the entire application process will go fairly quickly, you and/or your Miami immigration attorney could simply file that one application.

In any other situation, however, it can be well worth having more than one petitioner file an I-130 on the immigrant’s behalf. Why? Because circumstances can change with the passage of time. A petitioner might die or lose interest in helping the immigrant. If either one of the two scenarios described above apply, the fact that another petitioner concurrently filed an I-130 for the same immigrant may prevent the “lost time” conundrum.

What if the petitioner dies before the immigrant gets the green card? Some possible remedies exist in such cases, including something called “humanitarian reinstatement” and a law assisting surviving spouses of U.S. citizens. Nevertheless, such remedies may, depending on the facts of the situation, not work in all cases. Again, if you may want to seriously consider hiring an  immigration lawyer in these kinds of circumstances.

If you think would like more information on this topic, please contact Miami immigration attorney Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305)895-2500 or visit our website at <>www.

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