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Can U.S. Citizens Immigrate A Nephew Or Niece For Permanent Residence?


“Can I immigrate my nephew and niece? I just became a U.S. citizen, and I want to know if I could file papers for my brother’s minor children? He does not have legal immigration documents and I’m afraid his children could get picked-up and deported.”

(Submitted by Alfred M., Ontario, CA)


Unfortunately, the answer is no.

I’m not clear why your brother does not have legal immigration status.

If he was a green card holder at one time, but lost his permanent residency papers through deportation, that’s one situation.

However, to answer your question, I am going to assume a different set of circumstances. I will suppose your brother has never been a legal resident and he has never been deported.

In this case, you could file a sibling petition on behalf of your brother. The process is slow and it will be a long wait before he earns a green card.

Once your brother obtains permanent resident status, he may be able to file immigration papers for his own children.

Actually, your question about who you can immigrate is the most common question I receive as a green card attorney.

As discussed above, when you are a U.S. citizen, you are entitled to immigrate all of your closest relatives. This includes your spouse, parents, children, brothers and sisters.

Here is an I-130 graph that offers a quick visual guide to your question.

But you are not allowed to immigrate nephews, nieces, cousins, uncles, or aunts.

If you were only a lawful permanent resident, you would have fewer options.

Before closing, I’d like to point out two other potential options regarding immigrating your brother’s children.

First, what about their mother? What is her immigration status?

Second, have you already adopted them? Even if you have not, assuming you have an active relationship with them, you may want to look into adoption rules.

If you have an ongoing case right now, and you have immediate case-specific questions, you may want to visit our Immigrant Relative Petitions And Family Visas Attorney Services page for more information.

Or you might want to schedule a 1-On-1 Personalized Strategy And Planning Session to discuss the ins and outs of your case in depth.