Family Sponsorship for Visas and Permanent Residency

U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents may sponsor certain family members for Lawful Permanent Residency status. Your status determines which relatives may be eligible to receive immigration benefits. U.S. Citizens may sponsor immediate relatives as family members who are not subject to waiting periods.

Lawful Permanent Residents may also sponsor adult children, siblings, and parents. Each relationship type is subject to different waiting periods which impact how long the process may take.

Sponsorship by U.S. Citizens

Immediate Relatives

U.S. Citizens may sponsor immediate relatives such as their spouse, children under the age of 21, and parents. In order to sponsor a parent, the sponsor must be a U.S. Citizen 21 years of age or older. These types of applications have no waiting period other than standard processing times. Immediate relative beneficiaries are not counted against annual quotas for family-based immigration.

Unmarried Children 21 and Older

Unmarried adult sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens are in the first preference category, meaning that, apart from immediate relatives, they have the shortest waiting period. However due to the relatively small number of visas allowed each year, there is a long backlog. Further, if the child gets married, they will drop to a lower preference category.

Married Children

Married children of any age are in the third preference category. Again, there is a very long waiting period, however in this case the petition would also support the beneficiary’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21.


Siblings of U.S. Citizens are also eligible for sponsorship, but fall into the fourth preference category, meaning the longest waiting periods for visas to come available. This petition would also support the beneficiary’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21.

Sponsorship by U.S. Permanent Residents

U.S. Permanent Residents may also sponsor spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21, as well as unmarried sons and daughters over the age of 21 under the second preference category. There are longer wait times for this type of sponsorship due to the numerical limits.

How Soon Will a Family Member Qualify?

For the categories listed above where there is a numerical limit, the priority date — or the relative’s ‘place in line’ — is determined by the date that the Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative is filed. Apart from long visa backlogs in most of the preference categories, there are other potential factors that can impact the success of the case. Proof that the relationship is bona fide or genuine, that the beneficiary is admissible to the United States (no prior immigration violations, criminal or substance abuse issues), and of financial sponsorship will all be factors that can impact the ability of family members to immigrate to the United States.

U.S. Immigration Assistance for Families

Read more here about U.S. immigration options for families. If you need assistance with immigration issues, we welcome you to contact an immigration attorney at Sivaraman Immigration Law to request a consultation.

About Attorney Sivaraman

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Sivaraman Immigration Law’s founder, Heather Sivaraman, brings an exceptional level of initiative, creativity and dedication to the practice of Immigration Law. A 2008 graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Law, she is an active… Read More
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Jing Huang, Associate Attorney, holds a Master’s degree in Law from University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa and a Bachelor’s degree in Law from China Women’s University. Prior to joining Sivaraman Immigration Law, Jing worked as an attorney in China s… Read More

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