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Sponsoring a Relative

Posted by Gutierrez Law Firm on August 7, 2013

A U.S. citizen or permanent resident may sponsor a relative who wishes to obtain a green card and live permanently in the United States.

Family Preference Categories

The number of visas available for the relatives of permanent residents is limited by law. There may be a waiting period. A green card holder may submit a permanent resident petition to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of a qualified family member. This is often referred to as a family second category.

If the family member is already in the United States, the permanent resident relative must submit a petition for alien relative (USCIS Form I-130) along with the required fee and signature. Once the petition for alien relative has been properly filed and approved, the sponsored relative must submit an application to register permanent residence or adjust status (Form I-485) with USCIS. Both steps are necessary to become a legal permanent resident of the United States.

Applying for a Green Card Outside the United States

An eligible relative of a permanent resident or citizen who lives outside the United States can file a petition through a U.S. consular office. The U.S. Department of State will work with USCIS to process the sponsored relative’s application, but an approved I-130 petition with a current priority date must already be on file. If a visa is available and the sponsored relative’s application is approved, they will be allowed to travel to the United States with the approved visa. They will then obtain a green card when they are officially admitted to the country by a U.S. port of entry.

Parents Who Sponsor Children

When the unmarried child of a permanent resident turns 21 years of age, it becomes more difficult for them to obtain a green card. The child is no longer considered as the daughter or son of someone who is legally living in America. Speaking with a knowledgeable immigration lawyer about the provisions of the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) could possibly solve this problem.

When the child of a U.S citizen or legal resident gets married prior to obtaining a green card, they lose their eligibility to be sponsored by their parent.

In the event that a permanent resident is granted citizenship through naturalization, the preference category for a sponsored relative is automatically changed. A visa may be available much sooner in such cases.

U.S. immigration law seeks to promote family unity. Questions about filing immigration status petitions can be answered by contacting the Gutierrez Law Firm at 210.225.7114.