The most common way of obtaining a Green Card in the United States is through family sponsorship. Under U.S. immigration law, all U.S. citizens (including those naturalized) may sponsor immediate relatives to come live and work in the United States as permanent residents. In family sponsorship, Relatives eligible for a Green Card when sponsored by a U.S. citizen include:
- unmarried children
- married children
Permanent residents of the United States (individuals who hold Green Cards) may also sponsor select family members to become permanent residents of the United States. However, unlike American citizens, Green Card holders may only sponsor spouses and unmarried children.
As with employment sponsorship, applying for permanent residence through family sponsorship is a multi-step process involving the U.S. citizen or permanent resident and the related foreign national. First, an immigrant visa petition, I-130 Petition for Alien Relative must be submitted by the sponsoring relative and approved by the USCIS. Once this initial petition has been approved, the foreign national and sponsoring relative may file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. On this form, the sponsoring American citizens or permanent residents must prove that they can support their foreign relative at 125% above the mandated poverty line.
Some relatives may not qualify for adjustment of status either because they are not in the U.S., they entered without inspection or overstayed their entry visas. If adjustment of status is not possible, consular processing will be required. In some situations, waiver(s) may be required. To ensure that all of the form requirements and standards of proof have been met, all individuals seeking a Green Card through family sponsorship should consult a qualified immigration law firm.