Congratulations on becoming a naturalized citizen. One of the privileges of citizenship is the ability to bring your immediate relatives here to become lawful permanent residents, and possibly future citizens. Immediate relatives include any unmarried children you have who are under 21, your parents (if you are 21 or older) and your spouse. You can also sponsor your married children and, if you are 21 or older, your siblings.

Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are given special immigration priority. There is an unlimited number of visas available, but they are granted in the order their underlying petitions are received. Once your relative reaches the front of the line, he or she can typically also apply for a visa or adjust their status.

Married children and siblings, however, are considered lower priority. Visas for these more distant relatives are granted after higher priority applicants.

How do we apply?

The process for petitioning differs slightly depending on whether your relative is already lawfully in the U.S. or is currently abroad. (If your relative is in the U.S. without proper documentation, contact an immigration attorney for advice.)

If your relative is in the United States, you will need to file these forms:

  • Form I-130, “petition for alien relative”
  • Form 1-485, “application to register permanent residence or to adjust status,” including Form I-765 and Form I-131

Write two separate checks for the filing fees associated with these forms.

If your relative is outside the U.S., you will only need to file Form I-130, “petition for alien relative.” Once this is approved, the petition will be sent for consular processing. The consulate or embassy nearest to your relative will answer your questions and notify you when the petition is approved.

How long will it take?

The processing time depends on a number of factors, so it’s difficult to provide an answer. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services provides a running estimate on its website.

Generally, immediate relatives will be processed first. Married children and siblings of U.S. citizens are third and fourth preference, respectively, so they may have to wait until third- and fourth-preference family visas become available.

Is there anything else I should know?

It’s important to remember that not everyone will qualify to come to the U.S. People who are known to have entered the U.S. illegally or who have committed certain crimes or immigration law violations should be sure to contact an immigration law attorney for advice.

Also, be aware that filing a petition for your relative does not itself confer any immigration status. Your relative will have to wait until they receive a visa before traveling to the United States.

If you are planning to bring a relative to live permanently in the U.S., we urge you to contact Yew Immigration Law Group. We know how to file these petitions properly and what evidence needs to be submitted. We may also be able to help you overcome inadmissibility or bars to adjustment of status.