Law Offices of Stephen Santucci, PC

Free Consultation, Call Us Today


Se Habla Español

Can I sponsor a spouse or family member to immigrate to the US?

If you're a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder), you've probably wondered how hard it would be to sponsor a family member to immigrate. Perhaps your fiancé or fiancée lives abroad, or you would like your parents to live near their grandchildren. What are the opportunities for family-based immigration to the U.S.?

There are many. Your chances and the waiting time, unfortunately, depend on whether you're a citizen or a permanent resident, and on the family relationship involved. Assuming the proposed immigrant isn't legally excluded from the U.S., the first step is obtaining an immigrant visa, one allowing the holder to stay here indefinitely. The second step is applying for lawful permanent residency.

The easiest type of family-based immigration is when a U.S. citizen sponsors an immediate family member -- a spouse, minor child, or parent. Recent widows and widowers, stepparents, stepchildren and adopted children of U.S. citizens sometimes qualify as immediate family.

There is no quota limiting immigration by immediate family members of citizens, and they don't need to wait until an immigrant visa number becomes available before applying for a green card.

Fiancés and fiancées of citizens can enter the U.S. for 90 days on a K-1 visa. If you marry during that period, getting a green card is relatively simple. If you haven't met face-to-face within the past two years, however, expect a waiting period. Same-sex fiancés and fiancées are welcome, provided your marriage is legal.

Spouses and relatives sponsored by green-card holders, along with non-immediate family members of citizens, are admitted through a preference-based system. This takes longer and is limited by annual quotas.

For green-card holders, spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 get the highest priority. There is often, but not always, little difference in the waiting times between spouses of U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

Except for spouses, the time between applying for and receiving a green card can be long. It depends on a range of factors -- the immediacy of the family relationship, the immigrant's country of origin, whether the immigrant is in the U.S. or still abroad, and others, including backlogs at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

There are many opportunities for family-based immigration to the U.S., but you'll need more information about your specific situation before you sponsor a relative. It's well worth discussing your goals with a knowledgeable immigration lawyer.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Our Office

Staten Island Office
1200 South Avenue
Suite 201
Staten Island, NY 10314

Toll Free: 800-409-5201
Map & Directions

Queens Office
Forest Hills Tower
118-35 Queens Boulevard
Suite 400
Forest Hills, NY 11375

Toll Free: 800-409-5201
Toll Free: 800-409-5201
Map & Directions

Philadelphia Office
1500 Market Street
12th Floor, East Tower
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Map & Directions

Lakewood Office
212 2nd Street
Suite 401A
Lakewood, NJ 08701

Map & Directions