Can an Immigrant Gain Permanent Residency Through Family Members?

Not only is it possible for an immigrant to gain permanent residency through family members, but family-based immigration is the most common method by which legal immigration to the United States occurs, representing approximately 65% of legal immigration each year. Once an immigrant becomes a lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen, they have the ability to become sponsors for family members that meet certain requirements and criteria. The criteria are:

  • Family members must be immediate relatives, including spouses and unmarried children under 21 of U.S. citizens; parents of U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old; orphans adopted abroad or ready to be adopted in the U.S. by U.S. citizens

Beyond these immediate relatives, eligibility for admitted entry is extended in an established order of preference to others, with the highest priority given to unmarried sons and daughters, spouses and their children. Following that are spouses, minor children and unmarried sons and daughters over 21 of legal permanent residents; married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their spouses and minor children; brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens and their spouses and minor children as long as the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years old.

Though many have expressed interest in bringing in other relatives who are important to them, including much-cherished grandparents, aunts and uncles, in-laws, and cousins, these categories are not included for eligibility. Further, the government limits the total number of family preference visas awarded each year to just 480,000, with immediate relatives given top priority. Still, despite its limitations, family-based immigration has been understandably popular, with each immigrant sponsoring an average of 3.5 of their relatives. In most cases, these are their spouses and children, who represent over two-thirds of those admitted through family immigration. Notably, the immediate relatives admitted to the country for permanent residency through family migration represent approximately 44 percent of total legal immigration each year. The process of having family members admitted to the United States for permanent residence is complicated by the fact that U.S. law does not allow more than 7 percent of total family visas issued to come from any one country.

The requirements involved in applying for family visa sponsorship are complex, and mistakes can delay approval. Assistance from an experienced, knowledgeable immigration attorney will prove invaluable to your success. To speak with one of our permanent residency attorneys, contact us today to set up an appointment.