Petitioning a Relative to the United States: What You Need to Know

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Whether you are a United States citizen, or have just gained permanent resident status, you can petition for your immediate family members to join you here in the United States. However there are certain conditions and you should understand the responsibilities this ensues.

Who You Can Bring

If you are a United States citizen you can petition for

  • Parents (If you are 21+)
  • Brothers or Sisters (If you are 21+)
  • Married or adult children
  • Spouse (If you are 18+)
  • Minor and Unmarried Children (If you are 18+)

If you are a United States permanent resident you can petition for:

  • Unmarried Children under 21
  • Spouse

However, each of these relatives falls into a corresponding “Immigrant Category” based on your own immigration status. If you are a citizen, your parents, spouse, and minor unmarried children are classified as immediate relatives. Every other eligible relative, regardless of your immigration status, is considered a preference relative.

The Process

You will begin the process of petitioning for a relative by filing Form I-130. The fee for this form is $535.

You will also need to submit documentation demonstrating your own immigration status, and your relationship to whomever you are petitioning for immigration status.

For your spouse you must submit:

  • Marriage record
  • Divorce records or evidence of termination of any previous marriages
  • If your spouse is currently in the United States you must submit two identical passport photos, for yourself and your spouse
  • Any records of joint ownership of property
  • Birth records of any children together

For your child:

  • Submit birth certificates
  • In cases without wedlock, submit evidence of legitimization of fatherhood

For your brother, sister, or parent(s):

  • Submit your birth certificate
  • Submit your sibling’s birth certificate, with evidence that you share one parent

For an Adopted Child:

Submit evidence of adoption decree
Submit any evidence of financial dependence

After You File

For immediate relatives, you can normally simultaneously apply for residence for your spouse and minor children that entered lawfully. There will be a many month delay to account for USCIS review, State Department review, and potential visa-availability issues. Preference relatives will need to wait for a little longer, typically years. Only a certain amount of preference green cards are allowed for different countries in a given year. If your relative is outside the United States, and your petition will be sent to the National Visa Center, who will notify the appropriate consulate on when and how to proceed. This is called consular processing.

To review your options, reach out to a legal representative. There are so many ways and exceptions for immigration status, and a whole network of forms with their own costs and required documents. The process can feel overwhelming and exhausting. At our office, we have seen it all and been there before. We would love to help guide you through this. Reach out to us today!