Family based immigration is divided into categories based upon the petitioner’s (sponsor’s) status as either a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident and their relationship to the sponsored relative.

A US citizen may petition for the following family members:

  • Spouse
  • Parent
  • Minor child that is not married
  • Adult child that is not married (derivatives permitted)
  • Child that is married (derivatives permitted)
  • Brother or Sister (derivatives permitted)

A lawful permanent resident of the United States may petition for the following family members:

  • Spouse
  • Minor child that is not married (derivatives permitted)
  • Adult child that is not married (derivatives permitted)

A sponsored alien is considered an adult at the age of 21. Some of these categories allow for derivative
relatives (such as the sponsored person’s spouse or minor children that are not married) to be included in
the process. Those categories that allow for derivative relatives to be sponsored are noted above. There
are certain step and adoptive relationships that permit sponsorship as well.

There are a limited number of visas which dictates how long it may take from the time that a family petition is filed until the sponsored family member can apply for their residency. However, certain
relationships are considered immediate relatives. This means that there is no limit on the number of visas that can be granted and the process will take a comparatively short time. Immediate relatives are
only the spouse, parent or minor child (that is not married) of a US citizen.
For all other categories, the date that the I-130 alien relative petition is filed marks the case’s priority date.
When the priority date becomes current, the sponsored family member may apply for their residency either in the US, through the adjustment of status process or at a US Consulate overseas through immigrant visa consular processing. Various factors will dictate whether or where a family member will apply for their residency. For a discussion of priority dates and their implications to a family petition, please read our blog article.

Gerstein & Gerstein Attorneys, PA routinely handles family petition cases no matter where the sponsor or their foreign relative is located.