Helping a Relative Become a Permanent Resident
Permanent residents and citizens of the United States may help a relative become a legal permanent resident based on their family relationship. Green cards based on family relationship do not consider the applicant’s work experience or education, but only some family members qualify. If you want to help a family member immigrate to the United States, an experienced Los Angeles immigration attorney can help you navigate the complex legal system to avoid unnecessary delays.
Qualifying Relatives for a Green Card
Immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen do not have to wait for a visa to enter the United States, although the process can still take about one year to complete paperwork. Immediate relatives include:
- Spouse of a U.S. citizen
- Unmarried children under 21 of a citizen
- Orphan adopted abroad by a citizen
- Orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a citizen
- Parent of a citizen who is at least 21
- Family first preference: Unmarried children of any age of a U.S. citizen, no wait.
- Family second preference: This category has two subcategories. Subcategory 2A includes spouses and unmarried children under age 21 of permanent residents; 2B is for unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents who are 21 or older.
- Family third preference: Married children of a U.S. citizen of any age. Married children are still fairly high on the priority list.
- Family fourth preference: Sisters and brothers of a U.S. citizen when the citizen is at least 21. The wait for siblings may be many years or decades.
- A spouse
- Children if unmarried and under 21
- Daughters and sons if married and/or over the age of 21
- Parents if you are over 21
- Brothers and sisters if you are over 21
- You are a U.S. citizen
- You intend to marry within 90 days of your fiancé arriving in the U.S.
- You and your fiancé are both free to marry and any previous marriages have been legally terminated
- You met each other in person at least once within 2 years of filing the petition. There are two exceptions: if meeting this requirement would violate long-established customs of your fiancé’s foreign culture or social practice, or if you prove the requirement to meet would result in an extreme hardship.
Not all eligible family members become immediate relatives as some will be preference relatives and have to wait several years before they can immigrate. The priority list is:
When a citizen or permanent resident submits a petition for a foreign-born relative, that person’s unmarried children under 21 and spouse are automatically included in the process.
Note that, as of 2013, same-sex marriages count for immigration purposes provided they are recognized by the state or government in which they took place.
Help a Relative Get a Green Card (for Citizens)
Citizens of the United States may help a relative immigrate to the U.S. by petitioning for the relative to receive a green card. You may only petition for certain family members:
There is no waiting list for immediate relatives of citizens, including a spouse, unmarried children under 21, and parents, but sons and daughters over the age of 21 usually have a wait time.
The process begins by filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, which establishes the family relationship. Once this form is filed, it gives your relative a place in line among other people waiting to immigrate on the same type of relationship visa from the same country.
Everyone immigrating to the U.S. based on a relative’s petition must have a financial sponsor. When it is time for your relative to immigrate, you will need to file Form I-864, Affidavit of Support.
Help a Relative Get a Green Card (for Permanent Residents)
If you are a permanent resident of the United States, not a citizen, you can file a petition for a husband or wife and unmarried children, regardless of age, but only U.S. citizens may petition for married children. The petition typically only needs to be made for the spouse as unmarried children under 21 can join the relative on the same visa petition. If a child reaches the age of 21 before your spouse reaches the front of the line, you will need to file a separate petition.
This process begins by filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. By filing the petition and proving a qualifying relationship, your relative gets a place in line for a visa number among other people waiting to immigrate to the U.S. based on the same type of relationship from the same country.
Everyone who immigrates based on a relative’s petition must have a financial sponsor in the United States. To help a relative become a permanent resident based on your permanent resident status, you will need to sponsor your relative and prove you have sufficient assets or income to support your relative once they arrive in the U.S. When it is time for your relative to immigrate, you will need to agree to be the financial sponsor by filing Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. Other people can make this commitment if you do not meet the qualifications.
If you become a U.S. citizen while your relative is waiting for their visa, you can upgrade their visa classification and speed up the petition by informing the appropriate agency of your naturalization. The spouse and unmarried children under age 21 of U.S. citizens have visas made available immediately.
Help a Fiancé Immigrate to the US
You may help a fiancé residing outside of the United States and his or her children under the age of 21 become permanent residents under a Fiancé(e) visa. A fiancé visa allows a foreign-born fiancé of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States for 90 days so a marriage ceremony can take place. Once married, the spouse can apply for permanent residence and remain in the United States while USCIS processes their application.
To petition for a fiancé visa, you must prove:
Fiancé status ends immediately after 90 days and cannot be extended.
Contact a Los Angeles Immigration Attorney
If you want to help a foreign-born relative immigrate to the United States and get a green card, an immigration lawyer can help you complete the necessary paperwork, ensure your relative qualifies, and guide you through the complex legal process. Contact Soliman Law Group today for a free consultation with an experienced family immigration attorney in Los Angeles to discuss your case.