U.S. citizens or those who hold green cards may decide they want certain family members to join them from their native countries. After going through the immigration process, those who are naturalized citizens or permanent residents understand the complications their loved ones may face. Immigrating to the United States can be a long and complex undertaking. However, one’s own status in this country can be a tremendous benefit to family member hoping to immigrate. The first step is understanding who among one’s family members are eligible for family-based immigration.
In most cases, citizens or permanent residents must complete a Form I-130 to begin the process of bringing a family member to the United States through the immigration system. This form affirms the petitioner’s relationship to the person coming to this country. Under family-based immigration programs, the petitioner may sponsor the following family members:
- A spouse
- Unmarried children under the age of 21
- Married children over age 21
- Parents or siblings as long as the petitioner is over age 21
- A fiancé(e)
The category of benefits a family member seeks may determine the length of wait before visas become available. Of course, different rules and different forms may apply if a petitioner’s family member is already living in the country or if either the petitioner or family member serves in the U.S. military. Those pursuing visas to come to the United States through family-based immigration programs must also meet other general eligibility requirements, such as having no convictions for certain crimes and having no bars from entry to this country.