Sponsorship for Your Relatives
United States immigration laws allow citizens and lawful permanent residents to sponsor certain relatives for legal permanent residence in the U.S. Relatives that are eligible for family-sponsored permanent residence (Family Green Cards) are listed in different classifications.
If you are seeking guidance with completing this process, please contact Immigration Attorney Karla De La Rosa-King.
Family-based Immigration: Who is eligible?
There is no limit on the number of immigrants who can enter the U.S. on these visas each year. They are:
- The spouse of a U.S. citizen.
- The parent of an adult U.S. citizen. An adult is defined as an individual who is 21 years of age or older.
- The unmarried child under age 21 of a U.S. citizen.
- An orphan who was adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen.
- An identified orphan who will be adopted by a U.S. citizen.
Family Preference Immigrants
Family Preference Immigrant visas are limited to a certain number. The categories are as follows:
- Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children if applicable.
- Family Second Preference:
- F2A: Spouses and children (unmarried and under 21 years of age) of lawful permanent residents.
- F2B: Unmarried children, 21 years of age and older, of lawful permanent residents.
- Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children.
- Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children.
Grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and in-laws cannot sponsor a relative for immigration.
In addition to the total number of Family Preference Immigrant visas being limited each year, there are also limitations within each preference category on the number of visas that are available to relatives from each foreign country. Because of this, there is always a large backlog for Family Preference Immigrant Visas. In some categories, the waiting period can be for several years.
Backlogs and Availability
During a backlog, the available visas will be issued in the order in which the visa petitions were filed. The filing date is also known as the applicant’s priority date. Thus, it is important to file your petition on behalf of a family member as soon as possible in order to “get in line.’’ The Visa Bulletin, which is maintained by the Department of State’s website, has the latest priority dates.
A cap (= limit) applies to the number of family-sponsored immigrants that can be admitted annually to the United States. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are not subject to the restrictions on visa numbers that are applicable to relatives in the other family-based visa categories. In addition, limitations exist within each family-based category on the number of visas that are available to relatives from each foreign state. Consequently, visa backlogs exist for the preference categories.
If you have concerns about family immigration or want guidance with completing this process, please contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment with Immigration Attorney Karla De La Rosa-King.