Generally, United States citizens are permitted to bring their family members to the United States and to sponsor them for US Green Cards. The country also grants this privilege to the Green Card holders and the foreign nationals who are granted lawful permanent resident status also can sponsor their immediate relatives and help them to obtain Green Cards. United States permits the permanent residents to sponsor their relatives for lawful status in order to promote family unity. But the Green Card holders cannot petition for and sponsor different categories of relatives who the US citizens are permitted to sponsor and they can only sponsor their spouses and children and to sponsor them, they must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.
While filing this form, Green Card holders must submit copies of certain documents and proof of lawful status in the country. If they are sponsoring their spouses, they must submit copies of their marriage certificates to prove that a relationship exists and copies of birth certificates, while filing petitions for their children and they need to go through the form instructions page for information on supporting documents. However, Green Card holders must submit copies of their Green Cards, while filing Form I-130 for their spouses and children. Spouses who are in America at the time of filing Form I-130, can change their status to immigrant status by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, after the approval of Form I-130.
There are four preference categories and the Green Card holders can sponsor their spouses under the second preference category. Under the second preference category (2A), they can sponsor their spouses and minor children and under the second preference category (2B), Green Card holders can sponsor their unmarried adult children. Spouses of Green Card holders will be put on waiting lists and they will have to wait until visa numbers become available. But the immediate relatives of US citizens need not wait and applications filed by their US citizen immediate relatives will be processed sooner. But the immediate relatives of Green Card holders must at times, wait for years to immigrate to America.
Spouses currently outside America will have to go through consular processing and apply for immigrant visas at US consulates in their home countries. They can apply for immigrant visas only after the US consulate notifies them about the approval of their immigrant petitions. Those immigrant visas will permit them to travel to America as permanent residents and they can get Green Cards after getting into America. But this process is quite simple for the spouses who are currently in America and beneficiaries who are in America as non-immigrants can file Form I-485 for adjustment of status and change their non-immigrant status to immigrant status while in America.
Spouses who are eligible for adjustment of status need not go through consular processing. But they need to wait until their priority dates become current and only after that they can file for adjustment of status and in this case, their current non-immigrant visas must be valid until they reach the top of the waiting list. But the immediate relatives of US citizens, can apply for adjustment of status while their US citizen relatives file Form I-130 for them. After their adjustment of status applications are approved by the USCIS, they will be granted Green Cards and they can remain in America as lawful permanent residents along with their permanent resident spouses.