Many people in the United States have family members living in other countries. The United States immigration system allows U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPR) to bring family members to the United States by sponsoring them to become green card holders. However, U.S. citizens and LPRs can only sponsor certain relatives. Our Fort Lauderdale immigration attorneys break it down for you below.
Who You Can Help Immigrate to the United States
If you want to sponsor your family member to live and work in the United States, you must ensure that they qualify. U.S. citizens and LPR can only sponsor immediate relatives or preference relatives.
Immediate relatives are defined as:
- Spouses of U.S. citizens, including recent widows and widowers and (as of 2013) same-sex couples whose marriage is legal in the state or country where it took place
- Unmarried children under the age of 21 who have at least one U.S. citizen parent
- Parents of U.S. citizens, if the U.S. citizen child is over the age of 21
- Stepchildren and stepparents, if the marriage creating the stepparent/stepchild relationship took place before the child's 18th birthday
- Parents and children related through adoption, if the adoption took place before the child reached the age of 16
Preference relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent residents are defined as:
- Family first preference: Unmarried children of any age, who have at least one U.S. citizen parent
- Family second preference: 2A: Spouses of green card holders and unmarried children under age 21; 2B: unmarried sons and daughters (who are over age 21) of green card holders
- Family third preference: Married people, of any age, who have at least one U.S. citizen parent
- Family fourth preference: Sisters and brothers of U.S. citizens where the citizen is over 21 years old
How Long Must Relatives Wait?
Immediate relatives can get green cards without having to worry about visa availability. They might have to wait a few months while the USCIS and the State Department process their applications. However, preference relatives may need to wait many years since there are only a limited number of green cards available to these applicants.
Need help sponsoring a family member for a visa? Contact our Fort Lauderdale immigration attorneys today at (954) 874-8870 to schedule a consultation!