Immigration of foreigners to the US based on a relationship to a US citizen or lawful permanent resident is granted by the Immigration and Nationality Act.
If you are a U.S. Citizen, you can file for the following relatives, but you have to prove the relationships:
- Husband or wife;
- Unmarried child under 21 years old;
- Unmarried son or daughter over 21 years old;
- Married son or daughter of any age;
- Brother(s) or sister(s), if you are at least 21 years old.
- Mother of father, if you are at least 21 years old
If you are a lawful permanent resident i.e a green card holder, you may file for the following relatives, as long as you can prove the relationships:
- Husband or wife;
- Unmarried child under 21 years of age;
- Unmarried son or daughter over 21 years of age.
Lawful permanent residents might not be able to sponsor their parents, married sons/daughters or brothers/sisters to live permanently in the U.S.
A relative who is being sponsored must obtain an immigrant visa number based on their preference category. Family-based immigration is divided into two basic categories: unlimited that has no numeric limit on it and limited that has an annual numeric limit.
Additional Categories for Family Based Green Card
The following persons can also get a green card:
- A battered child or spouse of a U.S. citizen (VAWA)
- Those who entered the U.S. with a K visa as the fiance(e) of a U.S. citizen (on K1 visa) or an accompanying child (on K2 visa)
- Nonimmigrant status holder
- Widow(er) of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- Those born to a foreign diplomat in the U.S.
Ineligibility for Family Based Green Card
The following people are not eligible:
- An adoptive parent or adopted child, if the adoption took place after the child's 16th birthday, or if the child has not been with the parent legally and living with the parent(s) for at least two years.
- A natural parent, if the United States citizen son or daughter gained permanent residence through adoption.
- A stepparent or stepchild, if the marriage that created the relationship took place after the child's 18th birthday.
- A husband or wife, if you were not both physically present at the marriage ceremony, and the marriage was not consummated.
- A husband or wife, if you gained lawful permanent resident status by virtue of a prior marriage to a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident unless:
- five years has passed since you became a lawful permanent resident; or
- you can establish by clear and convincing evidence that the prior marriage (through which you gained your immigrant status) was not entered into for the purpose of evading any provision of the immigration laws; or
- your prior marriage (through which you gained your immigrant status) was terminated by the death of your former spouse.
- A husband or wife, if he or she was in exclusion, deportation, removal, rescission or judicial proceedings regarding his or her right to stay in the United States or while a decision in any of these proceedings was before any court on judicial review when the marriage took place, unless any of the following conditions apply:
- The spouse has lived outside the United States for 2 years after the date of the marriage.
- There is evidence that the marriage is legally valid and it actual took place; and that both of you married in good faith but it was not for the purpose of procuring the admission of your spouse as an immigrant, and that no fee or any other consideration (other than appropriate attorney fees) was given for your filing of this petition.