In the United States, citizens and permanent residents (green card holders) can petition to bring family members into the country. This is called sponsorship. Family members of permanent residents who can petition for a green card are determined by a system of preferences. Immediate relatives, including spouses and minor children, have priority over other family members. They do not have to wait for visas to become available and are not subject to caps on the number of visas granted every year.
From there, preference relatives, such as married children and siblings, generally wait longer for a green card. The wait for the approval ranges anywhere from one to several years. Countries are granted a certain number of preference green cards every year. Once they are claimed, family members face an even longer wait.
Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other more distant relatives are typically not eligible for family sponsorship.
Family Sponsorship Application Process
The process to obtain a green card for a family member involves several steps:
- The petitioner files Form I-130 – Petition for Alien Relative
- The petitioner provides proof of their permanent resident status
- The petitioner then submits evidence of their relationship to the family member seeking sponsorship, such as a birth or marriage certificate
- The petitioner presents documentation regarding any legal name change for them or their family member
Form I-130 and detailed instructions for completing it are available on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. A Philadelphia immigration lawyer at Surin & Griffin, P.C. can work with you to ensure your petition is completed correctly to prevent any problems or delays with the visa process.
Waiting Periods Vary
After the application has been submitted, the waiting period begins. Your relative’s preference category, as well as the country they are from, determines just how long the wait for a visa number will be. If your relative resides outside of the United States, your petition is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). Once a visa number becomes available, the NVC will notify the appropriate United States consulate. Their consulate then notifies your relative and advises them on how to proceed.
If your family member is living in the United States, they can apply to adopt permanent resident status once their visa number becomes available. The Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485) is also available on the USCIS website.
It is important to note that an approved petition means the qualifying relationship for family sponsorship has been successfully established. It does not offer any benefits other than a spot in line in the visa processing process.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Help Clients Sponsor Family Members
We find that many clients are unclear about who is eligible for family sponsorship and just how long the process can take. If you want to know more about petitioning for a green card for a family member, schedule a consultation with a skilled, multilingual Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C.
We take the time to listen to your questions and concerns and explain all of the options available to you regarding your immigration matter. We handle all types of visas, appeals, asylum, and removal to find practical solutions for all of your pressing immigration issues. We treat every client with compassion and understanding. To schedule your initial consultation, call 215-925-4435 or contact us online. Located in Philadelphia, we work with clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania and nationwide.