Can I Bring Family Members to the U.S.?
The rules about which categories of family members can be petitioned for immigrant visas are pretty complicated. This video walks through the categories that U.S. citizens (no matter how you obtained your citizenship) can petition for.
What is an "Immediate Relative" in Immigration Law?
Different categories of family members are treated differently under U.S. immigration law. Usually the most favorable categories are the "immediate relative" categories, which include:
- Spouses of U.S. Citizens
- Children of U.S. Citizens less than 21 years old (including stepchildren and adopted children)
- Parents of U.S. Citizens
The main advantages of these immediate relative categories are that there is no annual cap on the number of immigrants in that category each year (so no artificial waiting list), and some types of immigration irregularities are more easily forgiven (such still being allowed to adjust status even if you've overstayed your visa).
One drawback of the immediate relative categories is that they cannot include dependents on their permanent resident applications. This usually isn't a problem, but occasionally causes weird and unfair scenarios where one family member has no options.
A List of all Family Petition Categories
Here are all of the current I-130 family petition categories:
- Spouses of U.S. Citizens
- Minor Children (<21 years old) of U.S. Citizens
- Parents of Adult U.S. Citizens (21+ years old)
- Married Children of U.S. Citizens*
- Unmarried Adult Children (21+ years old) of U.S. Citizens*
- Spouses of Green Card Holders*
- Minor Children (<21 years old) of Green Card Holders*
- Unmarried Adult Children (21+ years old) of Green Card Holders*
- Siblings of Adult U.S. Citizens (21+ years old)*
*Non-immediate relative category subject to an annual cap. See the info below on the Visa Bulletin.
Checking Waiting Lists with the Visa Bulletin
All non-immediate relative categories of family petitions are limited with an annual nationwide cap. In addition, each country in the world can receive no more than 7% of the annual total. For most categories, more people apply each year than there are visas available. When this happens, the applications are left in line until the next year. In some categories, the wait times are decades long. The Department of State publishes a bulletin each month showing which applicants are finally at the front of the line.
If you want to safely bring additional family members to the U.S. and are looking for attorney assistance, click the button below to schedule a consult. Or head back to the main resource page if you're still in research mode.