How Do Family Sponsorships Work?

If you want to immigrate to the US, then there are a few ways that you can do that. For some individuals, family sponsorships are the best way to do that. However, the process isn’t easy. There are many things that you should know about family sponsorships. Find out how the sponsorships work and whether it’s a viable option for you.

What Are Family Sponsorships?

Family sponsorships allow immigrants to get permanent residence in the US. If you have a family member who is a current permanent resident or citizen of the US, then you could be eligible for this type of sponsorship. Your family member needs to petition for you to come to the US. Then, the petition needs to gain approval. Only then can you legally enter the country.

Although family sponsorship is a great option for immigration to the US, there are some strict requirements for this type of sponsorship. Having a family member in the US does not mean that you and your family can get green cards easily. First, you need to make sure that your situation qualifies you for a sponsorship.

Who Can Petition for You?

There are very specific qualifications that a sponsor needs to have. Additionally, a qualified sponsor can only petition for certain individuals. Here is a close look at the requirements for family sponsorships:

  • A US citizen over the age of 21 can petition for his parents or an immediate relative, including brothers or sisters.
  • Any US citizen who is 18 or older can petition for his spouse or immediate relative. Additionally, he can sponsor any of his minor and unmarried children.
  • A US citizen can petition for any minor or adult children.
  • Any permanent resident can petition for a spouse or unmarried children.

If you want to petition for your extended family, then you are out of luck. Unfortunately, the process limits you to immediate family. That said, your immediate family can immigrate to the US. Once they get here, they can petition for their own immediate family to come over. All they need is a green card. In this way, you can get your whole family into the US.

The Specifics

If you want to sponsor a relative, you might wonder about the waiting period. With family sponsorships, there is no long waiting period. Your immediate family can get green cards without worries. There is no limit to visas or extended waiting period. Although you have to wait for a few months, it’s shorter than waiting for other visas. The wait gives the USCIS and the State Department time to process your request and approve it.

  • However, preference relatives need to wait longer for approval. Preference relatives qualify as the following:
  • Married or adult children of citizens
  • Brothers and sisters of citizens
  • Unmarried children and spouses of relatives

For these preference relatives, there is often a long waiting list. The US only allows a certain amount of green cards to go to individuals from each country. For example, India only gets a percentage of green cards for preference relatives. If you have a brother from India that you want to sponsor, the wait could be lengthy. With countries like India, China, Mexico, and the Philippines, application numbers are high. Your relative from one of these countries may have to wait years for a green card. Specifically, fourth preference relatives from the Philippines have a wait of 24 years.

With such a long wait time for some green cards, you might want to consider one other detail. If the sponsor of an individual dies or loses status as a citizen or resident, then your application will be rejected. Therefore, you might want to consider having two sponsors. This can prevent you from losing your chances at a green card.

The Process

If you decide to sponsor your family member, then you should understand the process. It is a multi-step system. First, you need to submit the visa petition. As the citizen or resident, you need to be the one to initiate the process. While the process continues, your relative needs to stay out of the country. She can only enter the US after every application is approved.

There’s also the issue of cost. When you file for family sponsorships, you need to pay filing fees. The price varies depending on your type of petition. Some cost under $500, while others cost over $1000. It all depends on your application.

The process itself can be complex. If you make any mistakes along the way, then it can result in the denial of your application. You might want to consider hiring an immigration lawyer for help. When you speak to one, she can tell you if family sponsorship is the right choice. Then, she can walk you through the process. Your lawyer can ensure that you meet all the requirements and have a successful application.

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