Many people immigrate to the United States by having a relative who already lives in the United States sponsor their immigration.
The relatives that a resident of the U.S. can sponsor depends on the U.S. resident’s status in the United States.
Citizens and permanent residents (Green Card holders) can help different family members immigrate.
Which Relatives Can Citizens Help Immigrate?
The following relatives can be sponsored for immigration to the U.S by a citizen of the U.S. as an immediate relative:
- Mother (if the petitioner is over 21 years of age)
- Father (if the petitioner is over 21 years of age)
- Son (if the child being sponsored is unmarried and under the age of 21)
- Daughter (if the child being sponsored is unmarried and under the age of 21)
Citizens can sponsor other family members, but it gets a little more complicated. Other relatives fit into what is called a ‘preference category’. Where immediate relatives are eligible for immediate immigration to the U.S. relatives in a preference category may have to wait for a long time before they can get a visa to the U.S.
Family members who fit into a preference category include:
- Unmarried sons older than 21
- Unmarried daughters older than 21
- Married sons of any age
- Married daughters of any age
Since it may take up to several years to get a visa for a family member in a preference category, it’s important to apply earlier and not later.
Which Relatives Can Permanent Residents Help Immigrate?
Permanent residents of the U.S. are limited in who they can help immigrate to the United States. The following are the only relations permanent residents can sponsor:
- Unmarried son
- Unmarried daughter
This is one of the main reasons for why permanent residents often go through the trouble of becoming a citizen. With citizenship, it is much easier to reunite a family.