U.S. citizens can receive many benefits from the U.S. government, including bringing their foreign-born relatives to the States. The USCIS issues many family-sponsored green cards each year. However, not every relative can immigrate to the U.S. You will need to follow specific requirements and restrictions. Here are a couple of things to know about which family members can sponsor you for a green card.
Do you need guidance about green card sponsorship? At Abogada Ashley Immigration, our legal team can assist you with everything from obtaining your green card to gaining permanent citizenship.
Which Family Members Can Sponsor You?
When someone wants to bring their family members to live in the United States, they may be sponsored by relatives already residing in the country. Unfortunately, not all relatives can be sponsored to live in the United States. You may need a sponsor, or you need to sponsor someone else in your family. In some cases, preference is given to immediate relatives over others.
However, the government does have a primary requirement – anyone wanting to sponsor a family member must be a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen. The family members who can be sponsors will depend on several factors, such as financial status. Individuals needing sponsorship will fall into two categories: immediate or family preference relatives. Many of these individuals will also be placed in a specific preference category.
Related: Green Card Denied? Here’s What Happens Next
What Are the Different Preference Categories?
According to U.S. immigration laws, certain non-citizens with U.S. citizenship or permanent resident family members can be sponsored for their green card. Spouses, parents, and minor children of a U.S. citizen can have a more accessible pathway to sponsorship. Other family members, such as siblings and married or unmarried adult children of U.S. citizens and spouses, minor children and unmarried adult children of green card holders, will be placed in a family “preference immigrant” category.
First Preference (F1)
In the First Preference category, any unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and older) of a U.S. citizen can be sponsored by their U.S. citizen parent.
Second Preference (2A)
Spouses and unmarried children of green card holders can be petitioned by their green card holder parent or husband/wife.
Second Preference (2B)
Unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and older) can be petitioned by their green card holder parent.
Married sons and daughters can be petitioned by their U.S. citizen parent.
The last category is siblings of U.S. citizens who can be petitioned by their adult (age 21 or older) U.S. citizen brother or sister.
Requirements For Eligibility
There are few requirements if a family member wants to sponsor someone to live in the United States. They must:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Reside in the United States with legal status
- Be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident
- Have an income that equals at least 125% of the federal poverty guideline
- Willing to assume the responsibility of supporting the sponsored individual
When you decide to sponsor a family member, it is an important decision. Technically, you are responsible for them for a period of several years. The United States government wants to ensure that anyone who sponsors a family member has the financial resources and eligibility to perform this vital duty.
What Are the Grounds For Inadmissibility?
Unfortunately, not all family members qualify to be sponsored for a green card to live in the United States, even if they have a qualifying relationship with the petitioner. Immigration laws want to ensure that there are no grounds for inadmissibility. There are several reasons why someone will not be allowed a green card. First, the individual must be mentally and physically healthy. A person with a mental or physical disorder could pose a threat to the welfare and safety of others in the community.
Along with that, anyone with a criminal record could be ineligible for a green card. While not all crimes will mean a permanent ban from immigrating to the United States, some crimes are more serious than others. Any crimes involving moral turpitude, aggravated felonies, drug or human trafficking, murder, or money laundering, among others, can prevent that person from being granted a green card.
Additionally, if someone has unlawful entrie to the U.S., prior deportations, or any negative history with immigration, this could prevent them from getting a green card.
Security is another concern in the United States. Anyone who has connections to terrorist organizations or has been convicted of overthrowing a government will be prevented from entering the country.
Related: How to Stay Protected When Marrying a Foreigner
What’s the Average Wait Time When Bringing a Family to the USA?
With over four million applications for a green card, it could take time to bring family members to the United States. Any immediate relatives (spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens) will have the fastest processing times because they are not subject to visa availability waiting times in the preference categories. However, nothing in immigration happens overnight! There are still wait times even for immediate relatives.
However, preference category relatives can expect a longer time for approval. In some cases, there is a cap on the number of immigrants in this category, typically at 226,000 per year. With those limits and the number of applications filed per year, those wait times can be hard to predict. In some situations, fourth preference applicants have waited several years to get an application approved for sponsorship.
Related: Green Card Vs. Citizenship: What’s The Difference
How to Begin the Green Card Application
A permanent resident or U.S. citizen will need to start this process. The sponsor will need to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. Also, they must provide documentation to show a family relationship between the sponsor and the applicant. These documents can include at a minimum a marriage certificate, birth certificate, and proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status. If the case is for your spouse, you will need to include evidence that your marriage is bona fide. After that, the USCIS will need to approve the petition before the process can move forward. As previously mentioned, immediate family members have a lesser wait time, while those in the family preference category could wait up to several years for the opportunity to come to the United States with a green card.
Why It’s Important to Find Family Members to Sponsor You
Having a family member sponsor will help you to receive a green card. Hopefully, you have an immediate family member who is a citizen of the United States. Otherwise, you could wait several years to get approval for your application. U.S. citizenship offers many opportunities to bring all qualified family members to the country. Finding the right sponsor can help expedite your green card process.