If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (green card holder) you may be able to help your relatives immigrate to the United States.

The first question to answer: How are you related? Only certain relatives are eligible for a green card through family. These include:

  • An immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, this includes spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of U.S. citizen petitioners 21 or older
  • A family member of a U.S. citizen fitting into a preference category, this includes unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21, married children of any age, and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizen petitioners 21 or older
  • A family member of a green card holder, this includes spouses and unmarried children of the sponsoring green card holder

If your relative fits into one of the above categories, then they may be eligible for a green card. Here’s how to help your relative immigrate in 2 simple steps.

Step 1: File the I-130 immigrant petition

The USCIS I-130, Petition for Alien Relative is first application you will need to file. You will be required to provide the following information about you and your relative:

  • Your relationship
  • Biographic information
  • Immigration history
  • Employment history

You will file this application with the USCIS along with supporting evidence that proves the information you provided.

Step 2: Your Relative Applies for a Green Card

Next, your relative will need to complete an application for U.S. permanent residency (a U.S. green card). This process will differ depending on their immigration category (preference category) and whether or not they live in the United States.

First, let’s talk about timing. Depending on your preference category, your relative may or may not have to wait to file their application. Immediate relatives of a U.S. citizens (this includes spouses, unmarried children under age 21, and parents of U.S. citizen petitioners 21 or older) can file their application immediately. If your relative is in a different preference category, they will have to wait until their visa number is ready.

If your relative lives in the U.S., their green card application will be filed through the USCIS. They will complete and file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
If your relative lives outside the U.S., they will apply for permanent residence through consular processing, directly working with a U.S. embassy or consulate. In this process, if approved, your relative will receive an immigrant visa to travel to the U.S. and once there will receive their green card in the mail.