What family members are eligible for immigration petitions?

U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents in New Jersey may intend to bring their relatives to the United States. Immigration law allows for family petitions, but federal laws govern family-based immigration options. The petitioner’s status as a citizen or LPR and the relationship to the beneficiary factor heavily in how things work.

Fundamental issues regarding family-based petitions

Under U.S. immigration law, “immediate relatives” are one group of persons that a citizen or lawful permanent resident may sponsor. Immediate relatives are spouses, unmarried children under age 21, and orphans adopted abroad or in the United States.

Some rules vary. For example, U.S. citizens over age 21 may petition for their parents, but lawful permanent residents cannot sponsor their parents. Similarly, only U.S. citizens may petition for their brothers and sisters. Lawful permanent residents might benefit from seeking clarification on who they may or may not sponsor.

And then, there are ineligible relatives regardless of citizenship or LPR status. Sponsorship does not exist for grandparents, cousins, aunts or uncles, and in-laws.

Petitioning for a family member

Immigration law requires completing forms designed to start the process of bringing a relative to the United States. In addition to completing the necessary forms, petitioners must provide documentary evidence of the relationship, such as marriage or birth certificates.

Those who are unfamiliar with the process might make mistakes or submit incomplete petitions. Citizenship and Immigration Services may send requests for additional evidence, and the response could mean the difference between an approval or a denial. Appealing a denial might be possible, but submitting a complete and accurate petition may lead to things moving forward without problems.

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