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Family Immigration: Who You Can Sponsor

September 30, 2017

Family Immigration: Who You Can Sponsor

Author: US Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

The US Immigration laws contain very specific and strict rules as to which family members can  be sponsored (applied for an immigrant visa or green card) by permanent residents (LPR) and US citizens (USC).

All groups of relatives are organized by specific groups, and each group has its own priority.  The priority depends on the status of the petitioner (the sponsor) and the age and marital status and familial relationship of the beneficiary. Each group has its own wait time. Only “immediate relatives” of the USC do not have to wait in the line.  Parents, spouses, and children under 21 years old of USC are immediate relatives.

WHO CANNOT BE SPONSORED:

The US laws do not allow for sponsorship of uncles, aunts, grandparents, and even stepparents in certain situations. Likewise, friends, very good friends, cousins,  aunts and uncles who “were like mothers…fathers…” but actually did not complete the adoption process by the time the person turned 14 years old, also cannot be sponsored.

Permanent residents cannot sponsor their married children, parents or siblings.

US citizens cannot sponsor for a green card their fiances. They can only invite them on a K visa, but will have to complete the process in the US by submitting an application for a green card. Permanent residents cannot invite their fiances at all. They have to be married to the person and apply for an immigrant visa for a spouse of a permanent resident and wait in line for about 2 years.

WHO CAN BE SPONSORED

US citizens can sponsor spouses, children under 21, and parents without additional wait time. Unmarried sons and daughters (over 21); married sons and daughters and siblings may also be sponsored. But for each of these categories, there is an additional wait time after the petition is approved. In case of a sibling immigration, that wait time is about 10-12 years.

LPR can sponsor spouses and children under 21; sons and daughters (over 21 but unmarried olny).

A petition US citizen is filing for his/her parents is good only for parents. Young siblings (little brother or sister) cannot be included in the same petition. In such situations (let’s say a sister is only 10 years old, and would have to stay in China if a mother is sponsored to the US), a mother or father, once they become permanent residents, would have to file for the unmarried, little sister. (Sometimes, it is possible to apply for a parole for a child who would have stayed behind).

A permanent resident may be able to bring his/her family on something called following to join provision, without the need of a separate application/ petition to be filed by the family members if  the relationship existed prior to obtaining the permanent residency, and the green card was obtained under certain categories (DV lottery, employment,  sibling immigration, etc). There is no statutory time period during which the following-to-join alien must apply for a visa and seek admission into the United States.  However, if the principal has died or lost status, or the relationship between the principal and derivative has been terminated, there is no longer a basis to following to join.  As an example, a person would no longer qualify as a child following to join upon reaching the age of 21 years (unless they qualify for the benefits of the Child Status Protection Act, see 9 FAM 502.1-1(D)) or by entering into a marriage.  There is no requirement that the following-to-join alien must take up residence with the principal alien in order to qualify for the visa. (See 9 FAM 502.1-1(C)(2).)  The term “following to join” also applies to a spouse or child following to join a principal alien who has adjusted status in the United States.

If you have quesitons regarding sponsorship ofr various family members, please contact us at office@shautsova.com or 917-885-2261.