Many permanent residents in the United States wonder if they can bring their family members to the country with them. Although there are cases where relatives may be able to receive a visa, permanent residents cannot automatically bring over family members. Even if you are allowed to bring over a relative, the waiting period can often last for many years.
Here, we’ll discuss the cases where you may be able to bring family members over if you already have a visa in the United States.
If you want to bring a family member over, you’ll have to serve as their sponsor. Only people who are citizens or permanent residents will be allowed to sponsor relatives. However, they can’t bring over all of their relatives, as there are strict limits to which relatives can be sponsored.
You are allowed to sponsor your spouse if you are a citizen over the age of 18 or a permanent resident. U.S. citizens over the age of 21 can bring their siblings and parents.
Permanent residents and U.S. citizens can sponsor unmarried children, and U.S. citizens can bring over their adult children.
Note that none of the family members that you can sponsor are extended relatives. However, if you sponsor a relative, they will be allowed to bring their children and partner with them.
Once the person that you sponsor becomes a U.S. citizen, they will be allowed to sponsor other relatives themselves. For example, if you sponsor your parents, they can then do the same for their unmarried children once they become a permanent resident.
The waiting period will depend on who is being sponsored. If they are an immediate relative (spouse, parents, or minor, unmarried children), they are not subject to visa limits, but they may have to wait a few months for USCIS to process their application.
The waiting period is usually substantially longer for preference relatives (adult children and brothers and sisters if you are a citizen, unmarried children and spouses for permanent residents). It can take multiple years before they are allowed to apply for permanent residency.
That’s because countries are given a certain number of preference visa slots each year. For countries where there are large numbers of visa applicants each year, your relatives may have to wait a long time before they are able to apply for permanent residency.
The number of applicants from each country varies widely by year, so waiting periods can also change substantially depending on when you apply.
Although waiting times are hard to predict in advance, higher preference relatives tend to have shorter waiting periods. Here are some of the average waiting periods by preference category:
First Preference (Unmarried, adult children of U.S. citizens)
The average waiting time for first preference relatives is around 7 years, although this time can vary widely. For example, the waiting period for Mexico is over 20 years on average due to the large volume of applicants.
Second Preference (Spouses or the unwed children of permanent relatives)
The waiting time tends to be shorter for spouses and minor children, at around 2 years. For adult children, the usual waiting time is around 7 years, although the waiting period can stretch to around 20 years for applicants from Mexico.
Third Preference (Married children of U.S. citizens)
The waiting period for married children tends to be longer, with an average time of over 10 years. For those from Mexico and the Philippines, the waiting period is often around 20 years.
Fourth Preference (Siblings of U.S. citizens)
The waiting time for fourth preference applicants is around 15 years. If applying from high demand countries such as Mexico and the Philippines, the waiting period is usually around 25 years.
Keep in mind that the waiting periods listed here are averages. That means that the time that you can expect for your case can either be shorter or longer.
If you plan on sponsoring a relative, you’ll need to submit a visa petition. The process is always started by the U.S. citizen on behalf of their family member. You’ll have to complete the petition, and they will have to file a number of separate applications.
If you are planning on sponsoring a relative, you may not know where to begin. The petition process can be quite complicated, and filling out applications can often take months of work.
To make the process easier, reach out to a skilled immigration attorney. They can walk you through your case and let you know which of your relatives is eligible for sponsorship. They can also make sure that you fill out the correct applications and make all deadlines.
At Monument Immigration, we have years of experience helping our clients sponsor relatives and obtain green cards. We know how important deadlines are for the immigration process. That’s why we prepare all documents for submission within 2 business days of receiving them.
We also offer free case evaluations, where we can discuss your relative’s petition and all of your legal options.