A U.S. citizen, and in some instances a U.S. permanent resident, may petition (sponsor) a family member to immigrate to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident either through consular processing or adjustment of status.

Immediate Relatives:

The U.S. immigration laws give special consideration to the following types of immediate relatives to a U.S. citizen,

  1. A spouse (same-sex spouse, as well);
  2. Unmarried minor children (under the age of 21); and
  3. A parent (U.S. citizen must be 21 years of age or older).

Unlike other family members of U.S. citizens, immediate relatives are not placed on the visa waiting list.

If your immediate relative(s) resides outside of the U.S., then he or she can start the consular process as soon as the U.S. citizen’s I-130 petition is approved. If your immediate relative(s) resides within the U.S., and entered legally, he or she will able to adjust their status without going back to their native country. If your immediate relative(s) did not enter legally, he or she may still be able to reside within the U.S. if they qualify for a waiver.

Other Family Members:

A U.S. Citizen may also petition for the following relatives:

  1. Unmarried Adult Children (21 years of age or older);
  2. Married Children; and,
  3. Siblings (you must be 21 years of age or older)

The U.S. citizen would need to file an I-130 for these relatives as well. Once the I-130 is approved, these relatives are placed on a visa waiting list. The priority dates for each of these relatives are posted and updated monthly on the visa bulletin. In most cases, these types of relatives must wait until a visa is made available to them while they are residing outside of the U.S.

Permanent residents may only petition for a spouse and/or their unmarried children. A permanent resident must also file an I-130 and get it approved in order to determine when a visa is available to their spouse or unmarried son or daughter. The priority dates for each relative is also viewable on the visa bulletin published and updated every month by the U.S. Department of State.


How long does it take to get a green card through family sponsorship?

It depends on which relative you are sponsoring, whether you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and your relative’s country of origin. Relatives that are approved for entry to the United States will be given priority depending on when the I-130 petition and supporting documentation is received (the sooner the better as the date a petition is received establishes a priority date). If the application is filled out incorrectly, or if there is insufficient documentation to demonstrate the required relationship, the process will become more delayed.

For U.S. Citizens there is no waiting period for immediate relatives, and when a petition is received and approved by the U.S. Citizenship Services and Immigration (“USCIS”) your immediate relative will immediately be given a place in line. Immediate relatives of a U.S. Citizen include a spouse, unmarried child under the age of 21, and parents (you the petitioner must be at least 21).

As indicated above a U.S. Citizen may also petition for married children, unmarried children over the age of 21, and siblings. Additionally, a permanent resident may petition for a spouse, unmarried children under the age of 21, and unmarried children over the age of 21. The time it takes in these instances depends on when the application is received and approved (which again will establish your relatives place in line or priority date), visa limitations for a particular year, and your relative’s country of origin. The process can take years depending on your relative’s circumstances. For more information visit Visa Bulletins located at the State Department’s website: www.travel.state.gov/Visas.

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If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and are planning to sponsor a relative noted above for a green card, call now to schedule a free office consultation so that we can discuss and design a creative U.S. immigration solution to unite you and your family.