Family-based green cards provide lawful permanent residency (LPR) and the ability to legally work in the United States.
To obtain a family green card, immigrants must be sponsored by a family member who is either a U.S. citizen or who holds valid, current LPR status.
Which Relatives Are Eligible for Family Green Cards?
Generally, a family-based Green Card is extended to the sponsor’s spouse and unmarried children (including stepchildren and adopted children) under the age of 21. Parents of children age 21 and above are also eligible for family green cards. Widows and widowers of U.S. citizens are eligible as are orphans adopted abroad by U.S. citizens.
In some cases, if the sponsor is a U.S. citizen, LPR may be available to unmarried children aged 21 and above, married children, and brothers and sisters.
Care should be taken when considering who is eligible because a petition may be declined if a family member has certain communicable diseases, has a criminal background or who has previously entered the U.S. illegally. Petitions may also be denied for anyone with a dangerous mental disorder or who has a dangerous drug addiction.
Who Can Sponsor a Family Member?
Any U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder) can petition for a family green card as long as the sponsor:
- Is aged 18 or older,
- Lives in the U.S. or a qualifying territory,
- Has a qualifying relationship with the individual petitioning for LPR,
- Is willing to commit to the duties of being a sponsor, and
- Has the proven financial capacity to support the petitioner.
Although some exceptions may be available to these requirements, they are rare and require a high level of documentation to achieve. An immigration attorney can help you determine if you meet the necessary qualifications to obtain LPR for your family members.
Obligations of a Family Green Card Sponsor
When you sponsor an immigrant for LPR status, you must swear to uphold the obligations imposed by this role. These include providing financial support until the family member becomes a U.S. citizen, departs the country, or dies.
The obligation for support continues until the family member obtains employment and works for a total of 40 quarters while paying into the Social Security system. The financial support obligation does not end in the event of divorce.
You must maintain a current address with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during your entire period of obligation.
If you would like to learn more about sponsoring a family member for permanent residency in the U.S., contact a family green card lawyer at Buhler Thomas Law, P.C. today. From our headquarters in the Salt Lake City, Utah area, we assist clients throughout the world with all types of immigration matters.