Carlos Batara – Immigration Lawyer header image

What Family Members And Relatives Can You Sponsor For A Green Card?

In this video, Carlos Batara outlines what family members can you sponsor for a green card and permanent resident benefits.

It outlines four different categories of eligible immigrants.

The video also share the differences between which relatives a U.S. citizen can petition and which relatives a permanent resident can petition.

How does this process work?

The process for bringing or keeping your family together – the family unification process – starts with applying for an immigrant relative visa.  The process beging with filing USCIS Form I-130.

After your petition is approved, your case moves forward to the green card application stage.

The paperwork for seeking a visa for your relative may look simple.  But appearances are deceiving.  There are a vast array of rules for immigrant relative petitions and family visas. These regulations quite often make successfully completing the first step of the green card process far more difficult than appears at first glance.

Depending on what relatives are being sponsored, the waiting times for permanent residence will vary.

Visa Petition Beneficiaries: Immediate Relatives Or Family Preference Relatives?

Family members you can sponsor are divided into two classifications.

Here’s a short tip on terminology.

  • If you are sponsoring someone for a visa, you are considered the petitioner.
  • The relative whom you are sponsoring is deemed the beneficiary.
  • Beneficiaries are classified as either immediate relatives or family preference relatives.

For an simplified visual showing what family members you can seek to immigrate, click here: I-130 Immigrant Relatives Graph.

Immediate Relatives Of U. S. Citizens

As the I-130 visa petitions chart above shows, if you’re a U. S. citizen, certain relatives you petition are classified as “immediate relatives”.

This label only applies to beneficiaries of U.S. citizens – but it does not apply to all beneficiaries of U.S. citizens.

Here is the main advantage for beneficiaries who are immediate relatives.

Immediate relatives are not subject to the limits on the amount of immigrant visas given out each year. This means they will be able to file for a green card without a long waiting period – and usually they will get their green card interviews scheduled more quickly than family preference relatives, often far more quickly.

So which family members of U.S. citizens are immediate relatives?

Only (a) immigrant spouses, (b) unmarried immigrant children, under the age of 21, and (c) immigrant parents of children over 21.

Family Visa Preference Benefeciaries

The other eligible relatives of U. S. citizens are placed into the immigration family-based preference system.

The same is true of those family members who can be petitioned by lawful permanent residents.

Unlike immediate relatives, family preference beneficiaries are subject to the annual visa quotas. This often leads to long waits, especially for immigrants from countries where the number of people who apply each year exceed their country’s visa numerical limits.

Family preference beneficiaries are divided into four categories.

Each category has a different waiting period. If your relatives are in a higher preference category, they will normally be able to file for a green card sooner than those in a lower category.

For example, if your relative is in the First Preference category, his papers will usually move faster than your relatives in the Second, Third, or Fourth Preference categories.

The lower the category, like Third or Fourth Preference, means the longer an immigrant will need to wait before he is entitled to a green card interview.

Who Is Your Child Under Immigrant Relative Visa Rules?

At first glance, this seems like a simple, almost silly, question. However, not all families are the same.

The rules for immigrant children can get tricky. To begin, under immigration law, the term “child” has a special meaning. The keys are (a) marital status and (b) age.

Consider the following situations:

Unmarried And Under 21 Years Of Age

If your son or daughter is unmarried and under 21 years, then your son or daughter is a “child” under immigration law.

Married Or Over 21 Years Of Age

If your son is married, but under 21, he is not a child under immigration family visa rules. Immigration law calls him a “son.”

If your son is over 21, but not married, he is not considered a child. Again, he is a “son” under immigration regulations.

What if your son was married at the age of 18, but divorced a year later? He is now 20 years old. If you file papers for him today, he is a “child” because he is now unmarried and still under 21. Once he turns 21, he is now your “son.”

Why is this important?

As the family visas chart, above, illustrates, a child of a U.S. citizen is classified as an immediate relative. This means his or her paperwork will move relatively quickly through the immigrant relative petition process.

On the other hand, a son or daughter can only file for permanent residence under the family preference system.  The immigrant visa process, as noted earlier, under the family preference system is much slower. In some cases, the wait can be up to 20 years or more.

Immigrant Stepchildren

If you marry someone, and your new spouse has a child under 18, a valid stepparent-stepchild relationship exists for immigration purposes for family preference beneficiaries.

Adopted Immigrant Children

Adoptions of immigrant children must take place before he or she is 16 years old. In addition the child is required to have been in your legal and physical custody for two years before the adoption before you are allowed to file a family petition to immigrate your adopted son or daughter.

Adopted Orphan Immigrant Children

The rules for immigrating an adopted orphan are more complicated. In addition, only immigrant orphans adopted by a U.S. citizen qualify as children under immigration law.

Children Born Out Of Wedlock

A child born “out of wedlock” means a child’s parents were not married at the time of birth. Two issues arise if a child tries to immigrate through his father.

First, the father must prove his child has been legitimated. In most cases, this can be done by submitting a birth certificate listing him as the father. Sometimes, the father is not listed on the birth certificate and other types of proof are needed to prove the child has been legitimated.

Second, the father must demonstrate he had a real parent-child relationship and participated in his child’s support, instruction, and general welfare before his child turned 21.

Recommended Reading On What Family Members You Can Immigrate:

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

Can More Than One Family Member File A Petition For The Same Relative?

When A Husband Dies, Is The Family Petition For His Wife Still Valid For Green Card Eligibility?

Ready to take a serious and honest look at the strengths and weaknesses of your immigration case? Let’s get started with a personalized strategy and planning consultation . . .

batara-immigration-law-telephone-numbers