Are you an immediate relative—a spouse, a minor child, an unmarried child or parent—of a U.S. citizen or green card holder?
Are you a married son or daughter (or a spouse or a minor child of theirs) of a U.S. citizen? Are you a brother or sister (or a spouse or a minor child of theirs) of a U.S. citizen?
If you answered “Yes” to any of the questions above, this chapter might provide you with the information you need to get sponsored to reside permanently in the U.S.! Under the family-based immigration category, a U.S. citizen or a green card holder may be eligible to sponsor his/her immediate relatives. Such relatives include a spouse, minor child, unmarried children, and parents. Also, under this category, a U.S. citizen can sponsor married sons/daughters and siblings.
Current U.S. law allocates 480,000 green cards per year to numerically limited (i.e., including immediate relatives), family-based immigrants, with an established "floor" of 226,000 family- based preference immigrants. Through applying for the proper classification and following the steps outlined for that classification, you may be on your way to obtaining one of these green cards yourself!
BASICS OF A GREEN CARD AND WHAT IT MEANS TO HAVE ONE
A lawful permanent resident (also known as a green card holder) is a foreign citizen who has been allowed to permanently live and work in the U.S. A requirement for U.S. citizenship is
having at least five years of continuous permanent residency status or three years if you have obtained your permanent residence through your U.S. citizen spouse. If you have a relative who is a citizen of the U.S. or a relative who is a lawful permanent resident, and you want to become a lawful permanent resident based on their status; there are many steps that you and your relative must go through.
Please note: In many, if not all cases, it would be wise to seek the legal counsel of an immigration law attorney, whose expertise will guide you through the often complicated steps required to obtain legal permanent residency in the U.S. (i.e., a green card). A note from the author can be found at the end of this chapter regarding the services his immigration law office can provide you, if such legal counsel is required or sought.
A permanent resident can petition his or her spouse and unmarried children, regardless
of their age. That is, a permanent resident of the U.S. can sponsor his wife and any unmarried children to come to the U.S. Many people seeking to reunite their family thinks that they cannot apply for their children who are over the age of twenty-one. This is incorrect. Even if your son or daughter is over twenty-one (and he or she is single), or if your son or daughter has been divorced, you can sponsor him or her if you are a permanent resident of the U.S. It is a good idea for a green card holder or a citizen to apply for his relatives as soon as possible. This is because it may take a very long time for unmarried sons or daughters to come to the U.S.
The Visa Bulletin published by the United States Department of States provides guidelines regarding the approximate time it takes for your relatives to come to the U.S. To review the most recent copy of the Visa Bulletin, click here.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO SPONSOR?
To sponsor your immigration to the U.S., you have to meet certain criteria:
You have to be a citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. and be able to show documents proving your status, such as a U.S. passport, Naturalization certificate, a birth certificate, or a green card;
You have to file an affidavit of support. You need to show that you can support your relative to be able to live at least 125% above the mandated poverty line.
If you are a U.S. Citizen, you may petition for the following (Note: you have to make sure you can provide proof of your relationships):
1) Husband or wife;
2) Unmarried sons or daughters under 21 years old;
3) Unmarried sons or daughters of any age;
4) Brothers or sisters, if you are at least 21 years old; or, 5) Parents, if you are at least 21 years old.
If you are a lawful permanent resident, you may petition for the following (Note: you have to make sure you can provide proof of your relationships):