How can I Sponsor Relatives for a Green Card?
August 12, 2020
Now more than ever, families need to stick together. One way to achieve this goal is by sponsoring family members to become lawful permanent residents of the United States. Helping relatives obtain green cards can be a challenging process, so it is important to understand the proper steps. There are forms that must be completed and evidence to show proof of the sponsor’s status and familial relationship, as well as other requirements. The following are phases involved for successfully sponsoring a family member for a green card:
- S. citizen or permanent resident files visa petition to sponsor the relative
- S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) arrives at a decision on the visa petition
- Waiting period until a visa becomes available
- Immigrant relative applies for their immigrant visa or green card
Who is Eligible?
Anyone who applies for permanent residency via a family member is required to have a financial sponsor. This means that the U.S. Government will look at that sponsor’s income and assets as resources for the potential immigrant. Financial sponsors have to be 18 years or older and be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Sponsors must also live in a home in the U.S., or in a U.S. territory or possession. In addition, sponsors need to show that their income level meets or exceeds 125 percent of the federal poverty level. For active duty military personnel, their income level should be 100 percent.
Certain relatives, employees, and adopted children who wish to immigrate into the U.S. are eligible for sponsorship. Family members who can be sponsored include spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and married children over the age of 21. Parents and siblings can also be sponsored, as long as the family sponsor is over 21 years of age.
There are procedures in place for U.S. citizens who wish to sponsor non-resident fiancés and their children under age 21. In order to do so, the petitioner must be a U.S. citizen and the marriage must occur within a 90-day period after the fiancé enters the country. Other regulations apply, such as the termination of previous marriages at the time of application.
Filling Out the Forms
In order to petition for a relative to receive permanent residence, Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative must be completed and filed for each relative. Form I-130 verifies the familial relationship between sponsor and relative. At this time, the sponsor must submit proof that they are a permanent resident, such as a birth certificate and proof of legal name changes for the sponsor and the relative. This may include marriage certificates and divorce decrees, passports, naturalization or citizenship certificates, and green cards.
The fee for Form I-130 can be paid with a credit card, using Form G-1450 Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. Money orders, cashier’s checks, and personal checks can also be used and should be made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Sponsors also need to file Form I-864 Affidavit of Support, which shows that they accept financial responsibility for the relative and the beneficiary will not need financial benefits or welfare from the government. The sponsor’s income, checking and savings accounts, property, and other assets may be considered.
It is important to know that this affidavit is legally enforceable, so if the sponsor does not provide financial support, they may be responsible for debts incurred by the relative. If the sponsor cannot accept financial responsibility, Form I-864 can be submitted as a joint or substitute sponsorship. Alternate sponsors do not have to be related to the immigrant, but different guidelines apply. The financial responsibility normally ends after the immigrant is credited with 10 years of work or becomes a U.S. citizen.
Once the petition is completed, the sponsor will receive a receipt in the mail ensuring that all documents are completed and included with the application. Special consideration is given to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens; there is no waiting period for spouses, parents, and unmarried children under the age of 21. Once Form I-130 is approved, the relative may apply for an immigrant visa. If the family member is already in the U.S. legally, and the petition was approved, the relative may receive permanent resident status.
There are a limited number of green cards available for family members hoping to immigrate to the U.S., and the wait times are broken down into the following categories, or preference levels:
- F-1: Children and dependents of U.S citizens
- F-2A: Unmarried children under 21 and spouses of lawful permanent residents
- F-2B: Children over 21 of lawful permanent residents
- F-3: Married children of U.S. citizens
- F-4: Siblings of U.S. citizens
The U.S. Department of State will contact those applying for an immigrant visa. Distant relatives will have to wait longer until their petitions are processed due to a limit on the number of immigrants that can enter the country and high demand. It is not unusual for relatives to be wait several years. To stay current on wait times, sponsors can subscribe to the Department of State’s monthly visa bulletin, which includes final action dates. If the yearly limit for a particular visa has been surpassed, the final action date will move backwards; additional visa numbers will become available for new fiscal year.
Vineland Immigration Lawyers at the MC Law Group, LLC Help Clients Sponsor Family Members
Sponsoring a relative for a green card can be complicated, but you can put your trust in the experienced Vineland immigration lawyers at the MC Law Group, LLC. For a free consultation, call us at 215-496-0690 or complete our online form. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout the tri-state area, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.