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I was an LPR. Now I’m a citizen. What happens to my family petitions?

Congratulations on your U.S. citizenship. Now that you’re a citizen, you have the chance to upgrade the status of any relatives you had already petitioned for. That’s because the U.S. uses a preference-based system for immigrating family members. The closest relatives of U.S. citizens are higher on the preference list than those of lawful permanent residents (LPRs).

For example, if you petitioned for your spouse or unmarried minor children (under 21) while you were an LPR, your new citizenship can be a huge advantage. These immediate family members of LPRs are second preference for green cards. Once you are a citizen and notify the appropriate agency, green cards could become available for them immediately.

What will happen in my relatives’ cases?

It depends on where your relatives’ petitions are in the system, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

If your petitions (Form I-130) were already approved before you became a U.S. citizen, you should notify the National Visa Center and request to upgrade the petitions. This requires a letter with certain information regarding each relative, a copy of each approved petition and a copy of your naturalization certificate.

If your petitions had not been approved before you became a U.S. citizen, you should notify the Service Center listed on the receipt notice you received when you filed the petitions. This requires a letter with certain information about your relative, a copy of your receipt notice for the petition and a copy of your naturalization certificate.

If your petition had not been approved and involves your spouse and children, you may not have filed a separate petition for each person. If you did not, you will need to do that now. Include a copy of your naturalization certificate and the receipt notice from your original petition.

In either case, you should receive an updated receipt and information about your relatives’ new position in line for visas and, ultimately, green cards.

Which relatives are eligible to come to the U.S. now?

Becoming a U.S. citizen also means that you can bring additional family members to the U.S.

Lawful permanent residents may only petition for these relatives:

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried children under 21
  • Unmarried children 21 or older

U.S. citizens can petition for:

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried children under 21
  • Unmarried children 21 or older
  • Married children
  • Parents
  • Brothers and sisters

Each of these relatives has a different position in the preference list. They must all be generally eligible to enter the U.S.

If you are seeking to sponsor relatives for green cards, contact Yew Immigration Law Group. We have years of experience helping families reunite in the United States.