If you have family members who want to immigrate to the United States, there are different paths available for them to reach this goal. One path involves obtaining a family-based green card.

If you are a permanent resident, also called a green card holder, you can help certain relatives obtain their own green cards. Depending on a relative’s situation, this could be the fastest way for someone to become a permanent resident of the Unites States.

Which relatives can I petition for?

If you are a permanent resident, you can petition for certain relatives to obtain a green card. These relatives include your spouse, your unmarried children under age 21 and your unmarried children of any age. If you become a naturalized citizen, you may be able to assist other relatives who want to immigrate to the United States.

How might it be beneficial to petition for a relative?

There are a limited number of immigrant visas issued each year for each preference category of people planning to become permanent residents. A priority date (the date Form I-130 was filed) is used to determine the order in which people will receive a visa, and when a priority date becomes available, an immigrant may obtain permanent resident status.

Petitioning for family members can reduce the time your relative waits for a visa because your petition puts your relative into a more favorable preference category. Spouses and unmarried children of permanent residents are all in the second preference category, which can mean they spend a shorter time waiting then they otherwise would.

If you want to petition for a relative, you must file Form I-130, provide proof that you are a permanent resident and provide proof that you and your relative are related. The immigration process can be complicated and confusing. However, your understanding of this process can help you take the right steps to unite your family in the United States.