Many people in the United States, US citizens and Green Card holders wonder whether they can bring their relatives to the country. Many believe that, if one family member immigrates to the United States and settles there, that member can help the other members of his family to get Green Cards. But this is not true and US citizens and the Green Card holders can sponsor only certain categories of relatives for lawful status in America. A US citizen can sponsor his child, spouse and his parents for legal status and these relatives belong to the immediate relatives category. Likewise, a Green Card holder can sponsor his spouse and unmarried children. But the children and spouses of permanent residents will not be considered immediate relatives and they will be subject to numerical quota limitations. But the children of US citizens will not be put on a waiting list and they will soon be granted immigrant visas. US citizens can also sponsor their married children, but they cannot sponsor their uncles, aunts, grandparents, etc.
A child, according to the US immigration laws is an unmarried person below age 21. Children of US citizens below age 21 belong to the immediate relatives category. Likewise, US citizens can also sponsor their children who are married and who are above age 21. But the married children of US citizens, over the age of 21, will have to wait for years to obtain immigrant visas as such children belong to the family preference category. But the children below age 21 can get immigrant visas sooner.
To sponsor your child for a US Green Card, you being a US citizen, must first file an immigrant petition for your child, with the USCIS. Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, is the USCIS form that you must file for your son/daughter, who is below age 21. Form I-130, must be field by you as it is mandatory to establish that a qualifying relationship exists between you and your child, abroad. After the approval of this immigrant petition, USCIS will forward the petition to the US Embassy or Consulate, in your child’s home country. As your child belongs to the immediate relatives category, your child will not be put on a waiting list. Your child will be required to visit the local US Embassy or Consulate to complete the processing for an immigrant visa. After the approval of the petition, your child will be issued an immigrant visa and he/she can travel to the United States and obtain a Green Card and live there permanently, with you.
If your child is in America, then your child can just adjust status to immigrant status by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, at the time you file Form I-130 for your child and he/she need not go through Consular Processing. By doing this, your child can obtain a Green Card while in America and need not return to his/her home country to complete the processing for an immigrant visa. Remember that, your married son/daughter who is above age 21 will have to wait until his/her priority date becomes current as married children above age 21 will not fit into the immediate relatives category. If you are a Green Card holder, your child must wait for an immigrant visa number to become available, after the immigrant petition, Form I-130 filed by you is approved by the USCIS. Moreover, Green Card holders cannot sponsor their married sons and daughters for lawful status in America.
Nevertheless, immigration reform is likely to bring few changes and the children and spouses of Green Card holders would be considered immediate relatives, if the immigration reform bill is passed and they may not be subject to numerical quotas. Likewise, the bill would eliminate the F-4 family preference category, that currently permits US citizens to petition for their siblings.