If you have an immediate family member who is a US citizen or permanent resident and you're interested in starting a new life in the United States, you may be able to apply for a green card through your US-based family member. To discover whether or not your application is likely to be approved and to learn some helpful application tips that you may find useful, simply continue reading.
Unfortunately, just because you have a family member who is a US citizen or permanent resident, doesn't mean that you're eligible for a green card which would give you permanent residency in the United States. As only direct family members of a US citizen or permanent resident may submit a family-sponsored application.
Applying For A Visa As The Family Member Of A US Citizen
In order to apply for a family-sponsored visa as a relative of a US citizen, you will need to have a parent, child, sibling, or spouse who is a US citizen. Even if a close family member such as an aunt, uncle, cousin, or grandparent has offered to sponsor your application, your application will not be approved.
Applying For A Green Card As The Family Member Of A Permanent Resident
The applicable laws are slightly different if you're looking to apply for a permanent residency through a permanent resident. As permanent residents can only submit a petition to bring their spouse or child into the country.
If you are looking to live and work in the United States through a parent who is a permanent resident, your chances of having your visa approved are a lot higher if you are currently unmarried. However, you can ask your parents to sponsor your application, at any age.
Applying For Permanent Residence Through A Grandparent
While it's not possible to get a US-based grandparent to directly sponsor your visa application, they can opt to sponsor your parents. Even if you're an adult, if your parents are given permanent residency, through your grandparents, you will then be able to apply for a visa through your parents.
Applying For A Visa Through A Sibling
It's well worth noting that your sibling must be aged 21 or over, in order to petition for a visa on your behalf. Even if your sibling is aged 18-20, you will still need to wait till they turn 21, to start your application process. Also, keep in mind that your sibling can also only act as your residency sponsor if they are a US citizen. As legally, siblings who aren't US citizens and are only US residents, may not petition for their siblings. However, if your sibling takes the necessary steps in order to become a fully-fledged US citizen, they will be able to help you gain US residency.
Applying For A Visa As The Fiancé (Fiancée) Of An US Citizen
If you're currently engaged to be married to your partner who is a US citizen. you may choose to apply for a green card under the K1 fiance visa. The process of having a fiance visa approved can be lengthy and you'll be required to prove that your relationship is legitimate through procuring evidence of your relationship. Such as photos, messages and emails, and reference letters from individuals who know the two of you well and can attest to the legitimacy of your relationship. If you or your fiance were previously married, you'll also be required to submit proof of divorce or a death certificate to prove that you're able to legally marry.
Prior to your arrival, you must have met your fiance in person, at least once in the last two years. Also keep in mind that you must wed your fiance, within 90 days of entering the country. For this reason, you should have firm plans to get married before you enter the country. Furthermore, your fiance must be able to prove that they earn more than the minimum federal poverty guidelines. When you apply for your visa, your fiance will need to prove that they can earn 120% of this amount, per year.
Applying For Residency As The Spouse Of An US Citizen Or Permanent Resident
You can also petition to reside in the United States if you have already married a US citizen or permanent resident, by submitting a Form I-130 application. In order to apply for this visa, you must be able to provide a copy of your marriage certificate which shows both of your full names as well as the date of your legal wedding ceremony. To prove that your marriage is real, you'll also need to provide evidence of your committed unions, such as a joint lease, joint bank account statements, and photographs of the two of you.
Not all applications are assessed equally. First priority goes to the unmarried children of US citizens, while the spouses of US citizens and permanent residences are given second priority. The children of US residents are given third priority while married children of US citizens are given fourth priority. The final priority is given to siblings of adult US citizens. The lower you rank on this preference list, the longer you can expect to wait to hear news about your application. Regardless of which priority group you are sorted into, it's advisable to submit your application as soon as possible, in order to avoid lengthy delays.
What To Expect After You Have Filed Your Petition
If you currently reside outside of the United States, your application will be forwarded to the National Visa Center, which will process it and send it to the appropriate US consulate. If you are granted a green card, you'll be contacted by a US consulate, to go through the consultancy process.
So if you're interested in applying for a green card by petitioning for residency through a US-based family member, it's well worth using the guide above to find out whether or not your petition is likely to be approved. As the rules for eligibility are strict.