There are numerous ways that someone who wants to live in the United States can lawfully enter the country. Some people can qualify for visas based on their employment or educational goals. Those who live in volatile countries or a region devastated by natural disasters could also qualify for specialty immigration programs.
Many people born in other countries who move to the United States do so through family relationships. Family-based immigration gives people an opportunity to obtain a visa or possibly a green card. Many individuals who qualify for family-based immigration will eventually be eligible for naturalized citizenship.
Immediate family members have the best options
When looking at the rules for family-based immigration in the United States, it is quite clear that those with close family ties have the most opportunities. Many immigration programs focus on the household members of an immigrant or citizen.
Spouses can obtain visas or green cards if the person they married is a citizen, a permanent resident or a visa holder. Children are also often eligible for family-based immigration opportunities, but their personal circumstances may limit those options. Those hoping to travel with a parent who has a visa will generally need to be under the age of 21 and unmarried.
Older children may sometimes still qualify for family preference visas if one of their parents has a green card. Married children can only qualify for family-based immigration if their parents are United States citizens.
There are options for other relatives. The family preference Visa program does offer immigration opportunities to family members other than spouses and children. However, such visas are typically only available to the relatives of United States citizens. Both the parents of citizens and their siblings may be eligible for family preference visas.
There are no current immigration programs to sponsor aunts, uncles, cousins and other, more distant relatives for entry to the United States. Seeking legal guidance to learn more about family-based immigration opportunities, including family preference visas, can benefit those living abroad or hoping to bring family members to the country and who want to better understand their options.