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The US immigration system allows certain individuals to sponsor their spouse, parents, children and siblings for permanent residency (green cards). Below can be found basic information on the requirements.
Sponsoring a Spouse
Deciding to get married is a big enough step for anyone, but deciding to marry a foreign national will involve some additional legal steps you might not have thought about. Speaking with an experienced immigration attorney to explain your different options will help put your mind at ease and make the process an enjoyable one!
US citizens can petition either their fiancées or spouses for permanent residency. Click here for more information on the fiancée visa process.
Once you are married to a foreign national, your spouse is considered an immediate relative, meaning there is no wait time (aside from normal processing times) to be able to request residency for your spouse. Initially, the U.S. citizen spouse will file Form I-130 to establish U.S. citizenship status, that you are legally married to your spouse, and that your marriage is legitimate and not just for immigration purposes.
If your spouse is in the United States already, you may be eligible to file a one-step adjustment of status and include the I-485 application for residency at the same time you file the I-130 petition. If your spouse is outside of the United States, once the I-130 petition is approved, they would then be able to immigrate to the US through consular processing in their home country while pursuing an immigrant visa.
Whether your spouse’s residency application or immigrant visa is approved depends on many factors, and your spouse is not guaranteed residency simply because he or she is married to you. Did you prepare the petition correctly and submit the required supporting documents? Is your relationship bona fide? Is your spouse “admissible” to the United States (re: previous immigration violations, criminal issues, etc.)? All of these factors should be taken into account when filing an application for your spouse.
You can check out an example fact pattern in our downloadable resource section!
If you are a Permanent Resident petitioning your spouse, they will be placed in the F2A category of the US Department of State’s Visa Bulletin. As there is a numerical limit to the number of spouses of residents who can immigrate to the United States each year, there may be a period of time that the immigrant spouse will have to wait before being able to file for an immigrant visa or for an adjustment of status. The Visa Bulletin is a database of priority dates in various visa categories, and you can check it here- https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin.html
To petition your spouse as a Permanent Resident, you first need to file Form I-130 to establish your relationship and priority date. Once the priority date is current, your spouse can immigrate to the United States by either filing an I-485 application for residency (if they are in the US), or DS-260 application for an immigrant visa (if they are outside the US). Keep in mind if your spouse wishes to pursue an adjustment of status in the US with form I-485, they must continually maintain legal status, have lawful presence, and not have worked without authorization, among other requirements for residency.
If you are interested in sponsoring your spouse, you should consult with an experienced family immigration attorney who can perform a thorough screening of your immigrant spouse’s immigration history to ensure a proper filing.
Only US citizens may sponsor their parents for Permanent Residency. The US citizen son or daughter must be at least 21 years old at the time they sponsor their parent for citizenship.
Parents of US citizens are immediate relatives, meaning there is no wait time (aside from normal processing times) to be able to request residency for your parent, once you are 21 years or older. However, it is important to keep in mind that being able to sponsor your parents for residency, and your parent being “admissible” to the United States for residency are two different components of the sponsorship process. There are many factors that come into play, especially your parent’s immigration history, especially any entry or visa violations, their criminal history, and their manner of last entry into the United States.
If you are interested in sponsoring your parent for residency, you should consult with an experienced family immigration attorney who can do a who can perform a thorough screening of your immigrant parent’s immigration history to ensure a proper filing.
Both US citizens and Permanent Residents can sponsor their children, who are minors or adults. How quickly your child can immigrate to the United States greatly depends on their relationship to you, the visa bulletin, and their immigration history.
US citizens can petition their minor, unmarried children under the age of 21 as immediate relatives, their unmarried adult sons and daughters (F1 category), and their married sons and daughters (F3 category). Permanent Residents can petition their minor, unmarried children under the age of 21 (F2A category) and their unmarried adult sons and daughters (F2B category). If the son or daughter of a Permanent Resident marries while awaiting a priority date, the petition is automatically cancelled and the beneficiary loses their priority date.
Filing Form I-130 is the petition that demonstrates the relationship between parent and child as well as establishes the priority date. There is a numerical limitation on the number of children of US citizens and Permanent Residents that can immigrate to the United States each year. The US Department of State’s Visa Bulletin is a database of priority dates in various visa categories, and you can check it here- https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin.html.
If you are interested in sponsoring your child for residency, you should consult with an experienced family immigration attorney who can do a thorough screening of their immigration history to ensure a proper filing.
US citizens who are 21 years or older may sponsor their siblings for residency in the F4 category. The siblings need only share one parent in common to qualify.
Filing Form I-130 is the petition that demonstrates the relationship between siblings as well as establishes the priority date. There is a numerical limitation on the number of siblings of US citizens that can immigrate to the United States each year. The US Department of State’s Visa Bulletin is a database of priority dates in various visa categories, and you can check it here- https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin.html
If you are interested in sponsoring your sibling for residency, you should consult with an experienced family immigration attorney who can do a who can perform a thorough screening of your immigrant sibling’s immigration history to ensure a proper filing.
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