The answer is not straightforward. People can only sponsor their relatives if they themselves are U.S. citizens or permanent residents (have a green card). Then it depends on which relative they want to sponsor (the official term is "petition"). Some family members are classified as immediate relatives. These are the parents, spouse, and minor, unmarried children of U.S. citizens. Preference relatives include the siblings and married or adult children of U.S. citizens. The spouse and unmarried children of U.S. permanent residents are also preference relatives. A citizen or permanent resident cannot sponsor parents-in-law, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other relatives.
The terms for relatives indicate a difference in how long it takes to get a green card. An immediate relative does not have to wait. He or she can apply immediately. Preference relatives have waiting periods of as much as 4 to 23 years before they can even apply for their visas or green cards. Though preference family members have a considerable wait, the good news is that education and work records do not affect a person's eligibility. Accompanying relatives may be eligible for green cards as well. For example, if you have unmarried children younger than 21, they may be able to come along with your spouse.
For a U.S. citizen to be able to petition for a family member to come to the United States, there are further age requirements. A citizen has to be at least 18 years old to sponsor a spouse or minor unmarried children. This is due to financial reasons. The petitioner would have to be at least 21 years old to sponsor brothers, sisters, and parents. A permanent resident usually does not have to be a certain age to petition.
There are many restrictions, qualifications, and waivers to almost any issue of immigration. When you and your family needs answers, you can find them with a qualified North Carolina immigration lawyer. At Brown Immigration Law, we have more than 50 years of immigration experience. We may be able to help you succeed with your visa or green card applications. Find out what we can do for you when you contact our firm. Call today!