Can I Bring My Family to the US?


Certain people who are permanent residents or US citizens are allowed to petition for other family members. We get this question really often from resident citizens and those who are wanting to be petitioned alike.

Can I bring family members to the US?

Our favorite lawyer answer is always it depends. It depends on who you are wanting to bring over.

Who can I petition for as a US citizen?

As a U.S citizen, you have the right to petition for more categories than a permanent resident does. One of the easiest categories, in the sense that it’s not necessarily easy but it’s just a category that’s more widely accepted and tends to run a bit quicker than other categories of family members, is their spouses, their minor children, and their parents.

With immigration, the age of being a minor is 21, not 18 like in some U.S states. For immigration purposes, 21 and over is now considered an adult. Minor children under 21 as well as parents of U.S citizens.

The spouse of a U.S citizen, a minor child of a U.S citizen, and a parent of a U.S citizen all fall under the same immediate relative category meaning that there is no wait. We say that with caution not that there’s no way just that there is no line that they have to get into to wait for an immigrant visa to be available for them. There’s going to always be an immigrant visa available for them.

US citizens can also petition for their adult children, over the age of 21 and over, whether they are married or unmarried. There may just be a bit of a longer wait essentially because they do have to join that line and wait for a visa to be available for them.

The last category that US citizens are allowed to petition for is their siblings. If it’s a half-sibling, there are also ways to do that. There just may be different ways we need to prove sibling relationship and that’s one of those things that depending on what country you’re from, you may be waiting a while.

While US citizens can petition for siblings, depending on where you’re from, it might be something that you’re waiting your whole life for. We have some categories that take six to ten years and some that take 20 years or more.

It’s just one of those things that it doesn’t hurt to ask, we’re always going to recommend an attorney to see what the best practice is. But, unfortunately, the sibling category is one of the longest in many countries. It’s one of those things that you have to get started but you’re going to be waiting for a while.

Who can I petition for as a lawful permanent resident?

US citizens obviously have more rights and benefits. Lawful permanent residents have some of those benefits, but not all of them. It’s more beneficial for a permanent resident to try and get their citizenship as soon as possible. We’re always going to recommend that if a person is going to qualify because it definitely will open up more doors.

Permanent residents can petition for their spouses and their minor children. Sometimes it’s a little bit longer than US citizens so they do have to get in line. It may not be as long of a line as other categories but sometimes there is a wait time of one to three years, depending on the time that the petition is filed and what the wait time is on the visa bulletin at that moment.

Residents can also petition for their adult children but only if they’re unmarried. The key is always going to be for those adult children to remain unmarried if they’re planning on having their resident parent petition for them. Again, there is going to be a wait time.

It’s one of those things that we are going to strategize about and decide what’s best for you.

Perhaps it’s best to not get married yet or it’s best for you to get married because your spouse is a US citizen. There are going to be ways that we can figure out what’s the best option for you. If you do get married at that point, then you have to wait for the parent to become a U.S citizen.

Residents cannot petition for their siblings and their parents. If any of those family members are thinking about being petitioned, it’s better to petition once that person becomes a U.S citizen.

Unfortunately, immigration does not allow for petitions from extended family members. It has to be more of a direct familial line. Sometimes we have to find a way through different family members or have a chain reaction if someone petitions for a sibling and then get married.

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