Immigrants often arrive alone in the United States. This is mostly for economic reasons, as long-distance travel in a group can be quite expensive. For many of those immigrants who’ve managed to settle down in the United States, however, bringing their families over to share their life will be a dream come true. It’s also a very possible dream with the help of a dependable Philadelphia immigration lawyer to advise families on ways to immigrate.


Under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, any U.S. citizen can bring immediately a spouse, an unmarried children below 21 years old, a parent if the citizen is at least 21 years old, or an orphan they are planning to adopt. This encourages immediate family members to be brought over, helping cement a family in the local community. The American Immigration Council explains the benefits of family-based immigration:

“The contributions of family-based immigrants to the U.S. economy, local communities, and the national fabric are manifold. They account for a significant portion of domestic economic growth, contribute to the well-being of the current and future labor force, play a key role in business development and community improvement, and are among the most upwardly mobile segments of the labor force. This fact sheet provides an overview of the economic and social advantages associated with family-based immigration. In particular, it highlights the direct benefits resulting from the participation of family-based immigrants in the labor force, their contributions to the community, and the key—yet often underestimated—value of the unpaid care work provided by immigrant women.”

However, the journey can still be daunting even with support from the U.S. relative. This is why the help of a knowledgeable immigration lawyer in Philadelphia at Best and Associates is necessary. There are two steps for every family-based immigration case. For immigrants with criminal and/or past U.S. immigration histories, there may be third and fourth steps that should never be attempted without a lawyer.

The first step is to prove the family relationship between the U.S. relative and the immigrant. The experienced immigration lawyers at Best and Associates know how to prove family relationships. Not every situation is the same and often families cannot provide standard evidence to prove their relationship to the extent that the law requires. The lawyers at Best and Associates know the complex laws and regulations that apply to the legal forms and evidence requirements to complete this step successfully, even if you cannot provide standard forms of evidence, like joint assets and estates.

Once the family relationship is proved, the second step requires the immigrant to prove that he or she is admissible to the U.S. The laws of inadmissibility are extremely complex and not intuitive. Certain criminal convictions may render an immigrant inadmissible. This is especially true for anyone who has been arrested anywhere in the world. U.S. immigration law is separate from the laws of U.S. states and foreign countries. For example, a criminal misdemeanor can be a felony. A dismissal of criminal charges may count as a conviction. Criminal histories are not the only concern.

Past immigration to the U.S. is also reviewed and scrutinized for any reason to deny a visa. An honest mistake on an old visa application might be considered a willful misrepresentation or even fraud. Overstaying a visa or period of lawful status on a prior trip to the U.S. may bar an immigrant for 10 years. Some immigrants are unaware they were deported and a barred permanently.

Immigrants that proceed without a lawyer can suffer permanent, life-long consequences that will keep a family separated. There are exceptions to the various grounds of inadmissibility. The experienced lawyers at Best and Associates can evaluate your case and devise a strategy to overcome potential grounds of inadmissibility.

(Source: The Advantages of Family-Based Immigration, American Immigration Council, March 14, 2013)