Are You Eligible for Family Sponsorship?

Depending on your situation, you may be eligible to apply for a U.S. Green Card using a family-based petition for having relatives living in the U.S. as U.S. citizens or permanent residents (also known as Lawful Permanent Resident or LPR).  Certain family members may be eligible to sponsor or petition you for a Green Card.

Family-Based Immigrant Visa Categories

There are two groups of family-based immigrant visa categories: Immediate Relative and Family Preference.

Immediate Relative

These visa types are based on a close family relationship with a United States citizen.

  • IR-1: Spouse of a U.S. Citizen
  • IR-2: Unmarried Child Under 21 Years of Age of a U.S. Citizen
  • IR-3: Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. Citizen
  • IR-4: Orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen
  • IR-5: Parent of a U.S. Citizen who is at least 21 years old


Family Preference

These visa types are for specific, more distant, family relationships with a U.S. citizen and some specified relationships with an LPR .

  • Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children, if any.
  • Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of LPRs.
  • Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children.
  • Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age.

There are unlimited visas available in the Immediate Relative group, whereas there are a specific amount of Family Preference visas available annually.

The 4 Steps to Applying for Family-Based Immigration

There are specific steps to follow in order for a U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident to successfully sponsor a family member.  These are:

  1. U.S. citizen or permanent resident files visa petition
  2. USCIS makes a decision on the visa petition
  3. Family Preference relatives waits until a visa becomes available
  4. Immigrant applies for an immigrant visa or Green Card

Step 1: Filing the Petition

To begin the sponsorship process, the U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident family member will need to mail a visa petition on USCIS Form I-130, along with accompanying documents, to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  The LRP must prove the family relationship is real.

Step 2: USCIS Makes a Decision

Once USCIS receives the petition, the officers will consider whether to approve or deny the request.

If approved, the case file will be forwarded to the National Visa Center for further processing.

If denied, it is possible for the petitioner to file a new petition after determining what changes need to be made to encourage an approval.

Upon approval, USCIS will forward the immigrant’s case file to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing.

Step 3: Preference Relatives Wait for Visa Availability

This step only takes place if the petitioner was in the Family Preference group.

Relatives that are not considered “immediate” are not eligible for permanent residence right away, as there are annual limits on the number of Green Cards that can be approved.  Thus, the immigrant joins a waiting list, and will usually wait at least a year before learning if a visa is available.

Step 4: Immigrant Applies for Visa or Green Card

If the petition has been approved, and a visa has become available, the immigrant would then submit an application for permanent residence.  This is usually done by applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate outside the United States, and then once in the states, the immigrant would apply for the Green Card.

During the ensuing process, called “consular processing”, the immigrant will be required to fill out various forms, provide documents and take part in a medical examination.

Why Legal Help for Family Sponsorship is Important

Although the concept of family sponsorship seems straightforward, there are many exceptions and details of which to be aware.  Instead of risking having your efforts rejected due to a missing detail on a document or an ineligible scenario, we recommend consulting with an experienced legal attorney who knows how to properly prepare successful family sponsorship applications.

Why Hire Us to Assist Your Family Sponsorship Case?

Since there are a limited amount of visas available under the Family Preference category, getting the application right the first time is vital.  Even though there are unlimited visas available for immediate relatives, an application needs to be prepared properly.

We have helped thousands of individuals to successfully get U.S. permanent residence through family-based petitions, and we can help you too!

The first step towards a successful family sponsorship application is getting an assessment of your case. Fill out our free immigration assessment form and we will get back to you within 24 hours to discuss your eligibility and options.

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