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I Am A US Citizen. How Do I Help My Relative Become A Permanent Resident (i.e., Green Card Holder)?

A lot of people dream of living in the US. To control the number of immigrants, the US authorities sets qualification standards and requirements to regulate entry into the country every year. One major means people by which people immigrate in the US is based on their links to citizens there or permanent residents. Submitting an Immigrant Petition for Foreign Relative is what you start with if you want to help a relative of yours to come over to the States.

Sometimes the petition can be submitted with a relative’s permanent application (i.e. green card) as explained below:

Which relative can you apply for?

If you’re a US citizen older than 21 years, you have the liberty to file for your:

  1. Parents
  2. Siblings

As a US citizen, you can file for your:

  1. spouse and
  2. children

When making this petition, you will be required to show the relationship between you and the relative you intend to file for.

Why do I have to make the immigrant petition for my relative?

Making this application and computing the required data offers the relative a position in the queue with others who are waiting to immigrate on the same type of relationship. Once it’s your relative’s turn, he/she may be qualified to immigrate.

For example:

If you submit a relative petition for your sibling, say your sister. If it gets approved by the UCIS, your petition will give her a position or place in the queue of people in the same country who also have siblings in the US. Your relative’s position or place in the queue is based on your application date. So, you will be at an advantage if you get it filed as soon as you can. Unmarried children under 21 age, spouse or the parent of the US citizen.

Other Relatives

Generally, if it’s your relative’s turn, his/her spouse and unmarried children who are below 21 can file as dependents.

For instance:

If you file a relative petition for your sibling, say your sister. You can’t petition for her spouse and children directly. But, they are allowed to apply for their immigrant visas when it gets to her turn. And a different relative petition has to be submitted for each person who gets eligible as a direct relative, which includes your children.

For instance:

To sponsor your parents, you need to make a different petition for each of them. And if there are others, their children, who are equally your siblings, you will also need to make different applications for each.

For instance:

If you marry a lady with a child, the child will normally be eligible as your stepchild. If he/she is not married and is below 18 years at the time you got to his/her mother. In such a case, you need to make 2 different applications for each of them.

How long before immigration?

The regulations provide distinct standing to the spouse, parents, or unmarried children below 21 years of a US citizen.

  1. No waiting list applies for immigration for the relatives.
  2. Those who entered and are presently in the US legally may be capable of adjusting to permanent resident status, i.e. gaining the green card.
  3. They will be invited to apply for an immigrant visa by the Department of State immediately their relative petition is endorsed by the USCIS. Some cases allow the petition to be made outside the US and directly at the consulate of the US.

Other relatives may have to wait for several years before their petition is served. This is because of the limits and high demands placed on immigrants by the law on the number of immigrants are accepted each year. Once it’s your relatives turn, he/she will be invited by the Department of State to make the application for the immigration visa.

Will My Relative Be Allowed To Stay In The US Till He/She Becomes A Permanent Resident?

The approval of your relative offers him/her a place among those who are waiting to immigrate and does not allow him/her to enter the US or stay until he/she becomes can apply for a permanent residence. Your relative is advised to remain outside the country until it's got to his/her time to immigrate legally. Staying in the US without an authorised status will affect his/her qualification in becoming a permanent resident when it finally gets to your relative’s turn. But, if your spouse, or parent, or an unmarried child under 21 is already legally in the US, and applies for change status to that of a permanent resident when you filed a petition for him/her, then he/she may, with some exceptions, stay in the US while the application is processed by the USCIS.

Do I get committed to anything when I file a relative petition?

It is a requirement in the law for anyone who immigrates by a relative petition to have a financial sponsor. Anyone who files a relative petition must accept to submit an affidavit of support and accept to financial sponsor his/her relative. In a case where the one who filed the relative petition is unable to satisfy the financial requirements, other persons will also be required to accept this commitment.

What follows after I have filed the relative petition?

If you had filed your application by mail, you would be mailed a receipt to inform that the USCIS has received your relative petition. However, if the petition is not properly prepared or incomplete, the USCIS will either reject it or ask for more data or evidence, and this will delay the entire process.

Whenever the USCIS makes a decision, they will notify you. Usually, any approved relative petition is sent to the US State Department's National Visa Center (NVC). Immediately it’s your relative turn on the line; the NVC will send a notification to you and your relative, inviting him/her and any eligible dependent to file for immigrant visas.

How long does the USCIS usually take to process a relative petition?

If I had filed a relative petition when I was holding a permanent visa status and now I’m a US citizen, what happens?

If after filing a relative petition you become a US citizen while waiting for your relative’s visa, you can choose to upgrade the class of your relative’s visa by advancing your petition. By doing so, your spouse, and unmarried children under 21 year will have a visa immediately ready for them.

  • In a case where you gain the US citizen status after your relative petition is endorsed and sent to the US State Department, you are to inform the NVC of this development by forwarding a copy of the certificate of naturalisation to them.
  • If the relative filed for is your spouse and has children who are your adopted or step-children, and you had not filed separate relative petitions for them, you have to make the separate petitions for them now showing your proof of citizenship too.


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