According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you can use Form I-817: Application for Family Unity Benefits to request approval and benefits under the Family Unity Program. In addition, this form is used to extend your benefits when they are set to expire.
The Family Unity Program is one way family members of certain immigrants who live and work in the United States can get legal status and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). This program is a part of the Immigration Act of 1990, known as IMMACT 90. If you have questions about this program or other options for your family, an immigration lawyer from our team may be able to help.
What Is Form I-817?
Form I-817 allows certain family members (children and spouses) to gain temporary legal status in the United States. This is renewable. You or your family could qualify if a spouse or parent became legalized under one of the participating programs, including IMMACT 90 or the LIFE Act Amendments. Our attorneys can help you understand if you may qualify.
The purpose of the Family Unity Program is to help reunite families and keep them together. This program is one option for some people who do not have legal status or a work permit to gain these benefits based on their loved one’s immigration process.
You may need to complete and submit an I-817 for each family member, which often includes the spouse and children.
When Do I Need to Submit an I-817?
If you believe you qualify for the Family Unity Program based on your loved one’s immigration status, you can use I-817 to request initial approval or extend your authorization. This program covers your legal status and approval of Form I-766, which provides your work permit.
Which program you file under can affect several aspects of the application process, including the necessary supporting evidence and where you submit your form, according to USCIS.
How To Complete and Submit Form I-817
You may need to complete all nine parts of Form I-817 by typing or completing the application with black ink. You can also need to provide documentation, although the necessary items depend on which program your approval could fall under. You can learn more by checking the USCIS requirements. Some of the parts of this form include:
- Part 1 – General Information About You
- Part 2 – Biographic Information
- Part 3 – Basis for Your Application
- Part 4 – Information About Your Relationship
- Part 5 – Other Information
- Part 6 – Applicant’s Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, Certification, and Signature
- Part 7 – Interpreter Information
- Part 8 – Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of the Person Preparing this Application
- Part 9 – Signature for Placement on Employment Authorization Document
There is a filing fee for Form I-817. It is generally $600. If you are over age 14, there is also a biometric services fee. You may need to submit the $600 fee when you file your form. You can pay by check or money order made out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Some people may be eligible for a fee waiver.
What To Expect During Processing
The time it takes to process Form I-817 depends on many factors. Sometimes, it could take a year or longer, making it one of the longest wait times for any similar program. The steps of the process include:
- Initial Processing: USCIS gets your application and ensures it is complete and signed. They may request more evidence or information to complete your file.
- Interviews and Biometrics: USCIS may ask you to come for an interview or to come in for fingerprinting and other security checks, often known as biometrics. Those who are age 14 or older may be expected to participate.
- Decision: You can receive notification about the USCIS decision in your case, both in your online portal and in writing.
Family Unity Program for Legal Status for Family Members
The Family Unity Program is one option for immigration relief for those with an immediate family member living and working in the United States. However, this program is only available to those whose loved ones immigrated through specific channels at a particular time. At New Frontier Immigration Law, our attorneys help clients find immigration relief that best fits their unique circumstances.
Our team can help you understand your options, weigh which best fits your needs, and move through the process. We can help your family seek a better outcome, even if you or a loved one already faces arrest, detainment, and removal proceedings.
You do not have to try to fight this alone. We may be able to reunite your family and help you stay together. We can answer your questions, explain what to expect in an easy-to-understand way, and represent you in immigration court if necessary.
Many members of our team have been where you are. We understand and want to help. It may be possible to fight removal and gain legal status.
Meet With Our Team Today to Learn More
At New Frontier Immigration Law, you can expect to receive the knowledgeable, caring, compassionate support and help you need without judgment. We are a part of the Phoenix immigrant community, and we are here to serve our neighbors. We provide individuals and families with strategic sessions with our lawyers so you can learn more. Reach out now to get started.