Sponsorship for your Relatives
U.S. immigration law for family immigration allows United States citizens and lawful permanent residents to sponsor certain relatives for permanent residence in the United States. The relatives that have been designated as eligible for family-sponsored permanent residence are grouped into different classifications.
If you have concerns about family immigration or want guidance with completing this process, please contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment with Immigration Attorney Kavitha Ramasami.
Family-based Immigration: Who is eligible?
1. Immediate Relatives
The “Immediate Relative” visas are “unlimited” – there is no limit on the number of immigrants who can enter the U.S. on these visas each year.
According to U.S. immigration law, “Immediate Relatives” of U.S. citizens are
- The spouse of a U.S. citizen
- The parent of an adult U.S. citizen. An adult is defined as an individual who is 21 years of age or older
- The unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
- An orphan who was adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen
- An orphan whose adoption by a U.S. citizen is pending
2. Family Preference Immigrants
The second group of visas is the “Family Preference Immigrant” visa, and these visas are limited at a certain number. The family preference categories are as follows:
- Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children if applicable
- Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children, and adult unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents
- Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children
- Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children
Grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and in-laws cannot sponsor a relative for immigration.
In addition to the total number of Family Preference Immigrant visas being limited each year, there are also limitations within each preference category on the number of visas that are available to relatives from each foreign country. Because of this, there is always a large backlog for Family Preference Immigrant visas. Indeed, in some categories, the waiting period can be several years.
During a backlog, the available visas will be issued in the order in which the visa petitions were filed. The filing date is also known as the applicant’s priority date. Thus, it is important to file your petition on behalf of a family member as soon as possible in order to “get in line.’’ The Visa Bulletin which is maintained by the Department of State’s website has the latest priority dates.
If your visa petition is denied you will receive a denial letter that will include instructions on how to appeal the denial.
A cap (= limit) applies to the number of family-sponsored immigrants that can be admitted annually to the United States. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are not subject to the restrictions on visa numbers that are applicable to relatives in the other family-based visa categories. In addition, limitations exist within each family-based category on the number of visas that are available to relatives from each foreign state. Consequently, visa backlogs exist for the preference categories.
If you have concerns about family immigration or want guidance with completing this process, please contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment with Edison Immigration Attorney Kavitha Ramasami.