If you are a U.S. citizen or you have permanent resident status (a “green card”), and you have relatives living abroad, you have the right to petition the government to let your family members come live with you. Many individuals leave their families in their country of origin while they come to Ohio to work and gain residency status or citizenship. Then they seek to reunite with their spouse, parents or children in this country.

The relatives you can sponsor

When it comes to family-based immigration, U.S. law prioritizes some family relationships over others. As the person petitioning immigration authorities, you are known as the sponsor. Your relationship with the person or people you are sponsoring can affect how likely it is that they will be approved for an immigration visa. So does your immigration status. If you are a permanent resident, you can petition on behalf of, by order of priority given:

  • Your spouse
  • Your children under 21 years old
  • Your children over age 21, if they are unmarried

If you are a U.S. citizen, you have the right to petition for more relatives, including, by order of priority given:

  • Your parents, if you are at least 21 years old
  • Your married child and their children
  • Your unmarried child’s children, if your child is at least 21
  • Your siblings, their spouses and their children, if you are at least 21

The law generally favors spouses and children under 21, but it is possible to help other relatives reach the U.S. as listed above.

The wait can be long

Unfortunately, the government sets a limit on the number of family-based immigrant visas it issues per year, and there are usually more applications than visas. Patience is necessary, though difficult, before many families are reunited. Your best chance at the fastest possible process is to hire an experienced immigration attorney.