If you are a U.S. citizen or a green card holder, you probably wish your family members could join you in Texas. However, if they are still living in their homeland, you may feel intimidated by the process of bringing them to the U.S. You know how complex the immigration system is, and you are not sure you will know how to navigate the complicated application process.
Fortunately, U.S. immigration laws give preference to family members because they do not want families to be unnecessarily separated. Depending on which relatives you want to sponsor, you should have a much easier time obtaining green cards for them.
Immediate relatives program
The Immigration and Nationality Act allows U.S. citizens to sponsor their immediate relatives for lawful permanent residency. The government holds an unrestricted number of green cards for immediate relatives, unlike other immigration programs that distribute a limited number of visas. There is a specific list of relations that INA considers immediate, and they are the following:
- Your spouse
- Your child who is younger than 21 and unmarried
- Your parents if you are older than 21
Since immediate relatives are an immigration priority, your family member will not have to wait for an available visa. However, green cards under this priority program are only available to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.
The family preference option
The family preference option is similar to the immediate family petition except that it involves a waiting period. If you are a lawful permanent resident, you may use this program to bring these relatives to the U.S.:
- Your spouse
- Your children who are unmarried no matter their age
Additionally, through the family preference option, U.S. citizens can apply for green cards for their married children and their siblings.
Other eligibility requirements
As with any immigration program offered by the U.S. government, there are certain factors that may disqualify an applicant from obtaining a green card. For example, if your relative is unlawfully in the country or the government has previously barred him or her from entrance, authorities will likely deny the application for a green card. Criminal activity is also a factor that immigration officials take seriously when considering someone’s request for lawful permanent status.
You likely have many questions about the process and the ramifications of seeking lawful status for your loved ones through these immigration programs. Fortunately, there are legal professionals dedicated to assisting those in your circumstances.