Lawful permanent residence is an “immigrant” status and not to be confused with U.S. citizenship). Permanent residency allows an individual to permanently live and work in the U.S. One way to become a permanent resident is through family sponsorship. As the United States promotes the family unity, U.S. citizens and lawful permanents may file petitions for their immediate relatives (defined as spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old) as well as other close relatives, such as brothers or sisters to come and live permanently in the United States. There is no limit to the number of people who may immigrate as an immediate relative of a United States citizen. All other categories are subject to numerical limitations and not immediate relatives such as brothers and sisters often face long quota backlogs waiting for immigrant visas to become available. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws and cousins cannot sponsor or be sponsored through family relationship.
The Family-Based Immigration categories are:
- Immediate Relatives (marriage, parents and unmarried children under the age of 21
- Other Close Family Members
Affidavit of Support
An essential aspect of the family green card application is the affidavit of support. It is a contract between the United States government and the sponsor or sponsors and without meeting the affidavit of support requirements, the green card application will not be approved. The essence of the contract is that under certain circumstances the sponsor or sponsors must pay the foreign individual’s living expenses or reimburse the cost of any government benefits obtained by the foreign individual if he or she becomes a “public charge” (receipt of welfare or certain types of government assistance). The affidavit of support is a long term commitment and only ends when the foreign individual either becomes a citizen of the United States or earns 40 working quarters. Of course, the contract also ends if the foreign individual were to lose or give up his/her status as a permanent resident. Divorce does not end the commitment.
Regardless of the U.S. citizen petitioner’s income, he/she must complete an affidavit of support. If the U.S. citizen’s income and/or assets are insufficient, they may bring in a joint sponsor or possibly use the income and/or assets of the foreign spouse. A joint sponsor can be any U.S. citizen or permanent resident (green card holder) and he or she need not be related to either the U.S. citizen spouse or the foreign national spouse..
To get started on the path to becoming a permanent resident through a family relationship (Green Card holder), please contact us.