One of the paths to U.S. Citizenship can be in the form of a family petition. U.S. Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) may petition for relatives to immigrate to the United States. U.S. Citizens may petition for parents, spouses, siblings, and children. LPRs may petition only for spouses and children.
Grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and cousins cannot sponsor a relative for immigration, and you must be at least 21 years old to petition for a parent.
There are two different categories when filing a family petition: immediate relatives and family preference categories. There is an unlimited amount of visas available for “immediate relatives” of U.S. Citizens. These include unmarried children under 21, spouses, parents, and widows/widowers under certain circumstances.
Family preference categories are subject to a limited number of visas. If the total number of qualified applicants exceeds the number of available visas, then applications are put on a wait and processed in the order they were received.
The length of time to process the petitions varies from case to case. Mistakes on the application, failing to follow instructions, and missing documentation can delay the process. An immigration attorney can help you through this process by ensuring that you apply for the right visa category and that all of your paperwork is filled out correctly.
If you choose to petition without an attorney, mistakes may be made and your petition could potentially be delayed or denied.