Family Petitions

You can petition for a family member if you are a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, however, you can only petition for certain family members and only certain family members can petition for you. If you are a U.S. citizen, you can petition for your spouse, your children who are under 21 years of age, and your parents if you are 21 or older. You may also petition for certain other relatives, but there will be a wait to obtain the green card based on their priority date. For further detailed explanation of this, you should consult an attorney. These other relatives include, married children of U.S. citizens, children over 21 of U.S. citizens, the spouses or children of U.S. green card holders, and brother and sisters of U.S. citizens where the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years old. Below is a chart of who can sponsor or petition for who:

Who You Are Immigrants You Can Petition The Immigrant's Category
U.S. citizen age 21 or older Parents Immediate relative
U.S citizen (at least age 18, for financial sponsorship purposes) Spouse Immediate relative
U.S citizen (at least age 18, for financial sponsorship purposes) Minor, unmarried children Immediate relative
U.S. citizen Married children or adult children Preference relative (1st or 3rd preference)
U.S. citizen age 21 or older Brothers and sisters Preference relative (4th preference)
Grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, parents-in-law, and other extended family members are not on this list and you cannot petition for them, but, if allowed to immigrate to the United States, the people on the above list, except for the immediate relatives, will be able to petition for their own spouses and children. Once someone has a green card, they can sponsor other people on the list. Navigating the preference categories and dealing with priority dates can be very complicated therefore, consulting with an attorney is very important. In addition, some family members may need a waiver of inadmissibility. See Inadmissibility Waivers page in Practice Areas.