Kolken & Kolken. Results-oriented immigration lawyers - specializing in Green Card, Deportation Cases and Temporary Visas.

Can my relative sponsor me for a Green Card?

If you have a relative who is a U.S. Citizen or who has a "Green Card" you may be eligible to obtain permanent status in the United States.

In order for a relative to sponsor you to immigrate to the United States, they must meet the following criteria:

  • They must be a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the U.S. and be able to provide documentation providing that status.
  • They must prove that they can support you at 125% above the mandated poverty line, by filling out an Affidavit of Support

Your eligibility to be sponsored by your relative in the United States depends on whether your relative is a U.S. Citizen or a lawful permanent resident (has their Green Card).

  • A U.S. citizen may sponsor his or her close family members for a Green Card.  This includes their:

    • Husband or wife
    • Unmarried children under 21 years of age
    • Unmarried son or daughter over 21
    • Married son or daughter of any age
    • Brother or sister, if the sponsor is at least 21 years old, or
    • Parent, if the sponsor is at least 21 years old.
  • A Green Card holder (not a U.S. Citizen) may also sponsor their relative for a Green Card if the relative is their:

    • Husband or wife, or
    • Unmarried son or daughter of any age.

In any case, the sponsor must be able to provide proof of the relationship.

Preference Categories: How long do I have to wait before I can apply for a Green Card?

If you wish to immigrate as a relative of a U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident, you must obtain an immigrant visa number based on the preference category in which you fall.

People who want to become immigrants are classified into categories based on a preference system. The immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, which includes parents, spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21, do not have to wait for an immigrant visa number to become available once the visa petition filed for them is approved by USCIS. An immigrant visa number will become immediately available.

The relatives in the remaining categories must wait for an immigrant visa number to become available according to the following preferences:

  • First preference: Unmarried, adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. Adult means 21 years of age or older.
  • Second Preference: Spouses of lawful permanent residents, their unmarried children (under twenty-one), and the unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents.
  • Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens.
  • Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. Citizens.

Once USCIS receives your visa petition (Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative), it will be approved or denied. USCIS notifies the person who filed the visa petition of the petition was approved. USCIS will then send the approved visa petition to the Department of State's National Visa Center, where it will remain until an immigrant visa number is available.

The Center will notify the foreign national when the visa petition is received and again when an immigrant visa number is available. You do not need to contact the National Visa Center, unless you change your address or there is a change in your personal situation, or that of your sponsor, that may affect eligibility for an immigrant visa, such as reaching age 21, marriage, divorce, or death of a spouse.

The U.S. Department of State's Visa Bulletin will tell you how long you will have to wait to apply for your Green Card depending on what preference category you fall into.  Remember, immediate relatives have no wait, and can apply for their Green Card immediately.

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