If you are a citizen of the U.S. or a legal permanent resident (green card holder), you can sponsor certain eligible relatives to live and work in the U.S. However, you may not be able to bring all your relatives to the U.S. Only certain family members are eligible.
There are few different categories under which you can sponsor your relatives. You can sponsor them under the immediate relatives category or one of the four family preference categories. To get a relative a U.S. green card, you must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.
You can file applications to sponsor your husband or wife, children, parents and your brothers or sisters, if you are a citizen of the U.S. If you are a legal resident, you can help your husband or wife and your children to get U.S. green cards.
Under the U.S. immigration laws, husbands, wives, children and parents of U.S. citizens are immediate relatives. The child has to be a minor below age 21 to get a chance to immigrate to the U.S. under the immediate relatives category.
Unmarried children of U.S. citizens who are over 21 years of age fit into the first family preference category. Husbands, wives and children of green card holders will not be considered as immediate relatives and they will need to apply for legal status under the second family preference category.
Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens belong to the third family preference category. Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens will not be classified as immediate relatives under the U.S. immigration laws and they fit into the fourth preference category.
Relatives in preference categories must wait in line to get their green cards and that is because only 480,000 immigrant visas are issued every year under these preference categories. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens will be allowed to apply for immigrant visas immediately and they will not be put on a waiting line. This immediate relatives category is not subject to numerical limitations.
It is not sufficient if you prove that are a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, to sponsor your relative. You will need to show that you can financially support the relative. You will need to sign an Affidavit of Support and prove that your income is 125 percent above the mandated poverty line. So if you wish to sponsor your family member for legal status, you must also be willing to provide financial support.