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What if I am a U.S. citizen and my parents / siblings are not?

Maryland Citizenship Attorney- Green Cards for Family Members

If you are a United States citizen you may generally sponsor immediate relatives and other family members for permanent resident (green card) status in the United States.  Under U.S. immigration law, the immigration process and requirements for sponsorship will differ depending on whether your family member qualifies as an “immediate relative” or falls within a family preference category.

Parent - Immediate Relatives

The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs defines an ‘immediate relative” of a U.S. citizen to include a spouse, unmarried  sons or daughters under the age of 21, parent (if the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years old), and an orphan adopted abroad or to be adopted in the U.S.

Under the U.S. immigration laws, immediate relatives have special immigration consideration.  They do not have to wait to immigrate until a visa number is available because the government does not place any limits on the number of visas granted to this category of relatives.  This means that if you planning to sponsor one or both of your parents for a green card you will not have to wait in line for a visa number.

If your parents are currently living abroad, they will need to go through consular processing at a U.S. consulate in their home country in order become a permanent resident.  You will need to file the Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Once the I-130 petition is approved and a visa has been granted, your parents will be permitted travel to immigrate to the U.S. and will officially become permanent residents of the United States when they are admitted at a U.S. port of entry.

If your parents are already living in the U.S. they may be eligible to apply for a green card (Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) at the same time they file the Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130).  These applications may also be submitted separately: the I-485 application may be filed any time after the I-130 is filed provided that the I-130 petition has not been denied.  If you have questions about sponsoring a parent or other immediate relative for a green card a Maryland citizenship attorney at our firm can help.  We will guide you through all of the procedures and requirements to ensure that the immigration process goes as quickly and easily as possible for you and your relatives.

Siblings - Family Preference Category

According to U.S. immigration laws, a sibling is not considered to be an “immediate relative.”  U.S. citizens can still sponsor their brothers or sisters for permanent resident status through the “family preference category.”  Unlike immediate relatives, the U.S. government places annual limits on the number of family members who may immigrate under the family preference categories.  This generally means that if you are planning to sponsor a brother or sister for permanent resident status, there will be a waiting period before a visa number becomes available.

If your brother or sister is currently residing outside of the United States, he or she will go through consular processing in their home country to become a permanent resident.  You will begin the process by filing a Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) with USCIS.  Once the I-130 is approved your sibling will have to wait until an immigrant visa number becomes available before the visa is issued.  Upon the issuance of the visa your sibling will be permitted to travel to the U.S. and will become an official U.S. permanent resident when admitted to the U.S. at a port of entry.

If your sibling is already in the U.S. you will still need to file the Form I-130.  Upon its approval, you must wait for your priority date (the date when the Form I-130 is deemed to be properly filed) in your immigrant visa category to become current before your sibling can file the Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

If you have additional questions about sponsoring a family member or other immigration related concerns, we encourage you to contact a Maryland citizenship attorney at our firm today.  We are a caring and considerate group of immigration professionals ready to help you with all of your immigration needs.