What Family Members Can You Immigrate? (I-130 Visas And Petitions)

Immigration Lawyer Carlos Batara provides a simple guide for U.S. citizens and immigrants who would like to sponsor their relatives for family visas, as the first step towards a green card and permanent residence.

With offices in Riverside, San Diego, and San Bernardino, immigration attorney Carlos Batara has helped immigrants from over 80 countries win family-based permanent resident status.

He explains the family immigrant visa process looks simple. It’s not. As a result, Carlos has prepared a short outline showing which relatives you can immigrate.


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If the sponsor is a U.S. citizen, they have certain advantages over a lawful permanent resident. For instance, in many cases, the government will process the family-based visa petition of an immigrant sponsored by a citizen quicker than those submitted by a legal resident.

Based on two decades as a family visa attorney, Carlos Batara describes the green card system as having two distinct stages. In the first step, the family member who is seeking to petition his or her relative submits documents to prove the family relationship. In the second step, the immigrant will attend an interview with a government official. If the immigrant is successful, he or she will be granted a green card.

Normally, there is a waiting period between the two steps. However, in some situations, a U.S. citizen is entitled to submit documentation for both the first and second steps at the same time. Immigrants who qualify are known as immediate relatives — and both sets of their paperwork can be processed immediately.


When it comes to who you can petition for immigration benefits, there are only four possibilities. These are spouses, children, parents, and siblings.

Of course, nothing is quite that easy when it comes to immigration law. There are certain restrictions for each category.

Spouses — Both U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents can file family-based petitions for spouses.

Children — This is a more complicated category. Children are divided into four sub-categories when it comes to family-based visas. These are children (a) Under 21, not married; (b) Under 21, married; (c) Over 21, not married; and, (d) Over 21, married.

If your child is under 21, you can sponsor them for permanent residency whether they are married or unmarried. But if your child is over 21, you must be a U.S. citizen to file an immigration visa petition for him or her.

Parents — Only a U.S. citizen can sponsor a parent for an immigrant visa.

Brothers and Sisters — Again, only U.S. citizens can file immigrant family-based petitions for their brothers or sisters.

As can be seen, the logic of the family visa petition system favors citizens over green card holders when it comes to bestowing immigration privileges to immigrant relatives.

Want a free copy of our I-130 Immigration Relative Petitions Graph? Click here:

So, if you’re only a lawful permanent resident, is there no hope for your parents, brothers and sisters, or children over 21? No, not at all. If you have been a lawful permanent resident long enough, you may qualify to naturalize. If you are granted citizenship, you can then sponsor your other immigrant relatives for family-based green cards.

As this outline shows, neither citizens nor lawful residents can immigrate their cousins, uncles or aunts.



If you would like to learn more about Batara Immigration Law’s family visa petitions, green card, and citizenship services at any of our five locations, San Diego, Escondido, Hemet, Riverside, or San Bernardino, call (800) 287-1180 or click here:

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