How do I sponsor my relative for a “green card”?
If you are a U.S. citizen, you may help relatives become lawful permanent residents of the U.S. by sponsoring them for an immigrant visa petition. To do this, you need to demonstrate you can financially support your relative(s) when they come to the U.S. and provide proof of family relationship.
Which relatives may I petition for?
U.S. citizens may file a petition for:
- Spouse (husband or wife)
- Children, married or unmarried
U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years or older may also petition for:
When petitioning, you will be required to provide evidence to prove the relationship with the person for whom you are filing. Those children over 21 years of age will be placed in the first preference category of the family preference system. Children who are married are placed in the third preference category of the family preference system. This will impact the wait time your relative(s) will be eligible to immigrate.
How long will it take before my relative(s) can immigrate?
If your relative(s) are “immediate relatives,” the wait time will be significantly less than if you must apply through the family preference system. Immediate relatives include a spouse, child (unmarried and under 21), or a parent of the U.S. citizen and also widows or widowers of U.S. citizens who are not legally separated at the time of the spouse’s death. Immediate relatives are not subject to the long wait period that exists for family preference categories.
Family Preference System
Beneficiaries who are not immediate relatives, but are sponsored by a lawful permanent resident or a U.S. citizen are automatically subject to numerical restriction. The family preference categories are set as follows:
- First preference: Unmarried son or daughter (over 21 years old) of U.S. citizen parent
Second preference: (2 subsections)
- F-2A: spouses or unmarried children (under 21) of a lawful permanent resident
- F-2B: Unmarried sons or daughters age 21 and over of a lawful permanent resident
- Third preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
- Fourth preference: Siblings of U.S. citizens, where the citizen is 21 or over
The wait time for the family preference system is currently backlogged and can take several years before you receive immigrant status. Contact our office to discuss your options and find out how to get a priority date as soon as possible.
What are my obligations as a sponsor of a family petition?
Every person planning to immigrate must have a financial sponsor. If you plan to sponsor your relative’s immigration by filing a relative petition, you must agree to be the financial sponsor – this is a legally enforceable contract between you and the U.S. government. This contract obligates you to fully financially support the immigrant relative and is terminated only when the sponsored immigrant:
- becomes a U.S. citizen
- earns a total of 40 qualifying quarters as defined by Social Security law
- loses or abandons their lawful permanent resident status and departs from the U.S.
You must show evidence that you can fully support the relative beneficiary. If you do not meet the financial qualifications, another individual(s) will be required to make this commitment before the petition will be approved.