How Can I Help My Relative Become a U.S. Permanent Resident?


The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recognizes the crucial role that families play in the lives of individuals. Therefore, USCIS considers it a priority to uphold family bonds by allowing certain noncitizens who are family members of U.S. citizens to become lawful permanent residents (LPRs) based on specific family relationships. If you’re a U.S. citizen who wants to help a relative become a lawful permanent resident of the U.S., it’s in your best interest to contact our adept Essex County Family Immigration Attorneys, who can help guide you through each phase of this complex legal process. Please continue reading to learn how to sponsor a relative to become an LPR. 

What Are the Steps for Sponsoring a Relative for U.S. Permanent Residence?

The first step in helping your eligible relative apply to immigrate to the U.S. to obtain a green card is filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. This petition establishes the qualifying relationship between you and your relative. However, the filing or approval of this petition does not give your relative any immigration status or benefit. It’s crucial to understand that you’ll have to sponsor your relative and prove you have enough funds to financially support them after their arrival.

If your relative is already in the U.S. and a visa number is available, they may be eligible to get a green card by filing Form I-1485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. In some cases, Form I-130 can be filed with an application for permanent residence Form I-1485. Nevertheless, certain relatives must wait for a visa number before applying for Form I-485 or a visa if they’re filing outside the country. It’s important to understand that an immigrant visa is always available if your relative qualifies as an immediate relative.

What Relatives Can I Sponsor to Become a U.S. Permanent Resident?

If you’re an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, you can become a lawful permanent resident based on your family relationship if you meet specific eligibility requirements. You’re considered an immediate relative if you are:

  • The spouse of a U.S. citizen
  • The unmarried child under 21 years of age of a U.S. citizen
  • The parent of a U.S. citizen (if the U.S. citizen is 21 years of age or older

Other family members that are eligible to apply for a green card are classified into different family “preferences:”

  • First preference (F1): Reserved for unmarried sons and daughters (21 years of age and older) of U.S. citizens.
  • Second preference (F2A): Reserved for spouses and children (unmarried and under 21 years of age) of lawful permanent residents.
  • Second preference (F2B): Reserved for unmarried sons and daughters (21 years of age and older) for lawful permanent residents.
  • Third preference (F3): Reserved for married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
  • Fourth preference (F4): Reserved for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens (if the U.S. citizen is 21 years of age and older).

If you’re considering sponsoring a relative for a green card, please don’t hesitate to contact a determined Essex County family immigration attorney from the Law Offices of Christopher T. Howell, Esq., who can help you navigate this complex process. We are prepared to help you fight to keep your family ties.