Lawful permanent residents (LPRs) and U.S. citizens can also sponsor their children and parents for residency in the United States under certain conditions. As elsewhere in immigration law, previous unlawful presence, criminal convictions, and security concerns can delay or prevent an alien’s entry to the United States even if s/he is otherwise qualified to immigrate.
U.S. citizens can sponsor:
- their children (or those of their spouse) who are unmarried and under 21 years of age as immediate relatives
- their parents as immediate relatives, if the citizen is over 21 years of age
- their unmarried children who are over 21 years of age as Preference 1 relatives
- their married children (of any age) as Preference 3 relative
LPRs can sponsor:
- their unmarried children under 21 years of age as Preference 2A relatives
- their unmarried children over 21 years of age as Preference 2B relative
For immediate relatives, visas are immediately available and the aliens can enter the country as long as there are no bars to entry. For Preference Category relatives, the alien’s entry to the United States depends on the Priority Date from the I-130 petition as well as on the country of origin. Visa “backlogs” for the Preference Categories can range from fewer than four years to over 20 years of waiting.
As is obvious from these categories, families can optimize their situation to speed up the process. For instance, factors such as marital status of the alien and immigration status (LPR or naturalized U.S. citizen) of the petitioner can be used to your advantage. Our immigration staff offers free consultations to help you understand your options for sponsoring your children and parents.
Notes on Sponsoring Children
In the past, the “under 21 years old” restriction was used very strictly, such that many people were prevented from immigrating because they turned 21 while waiting for their cases to be resolved. Finally recognizing this injustice, Congress passed the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) in 2002, creating a complex set of formulae that incorporate wait times into the calculation of a child-alien’s “age.”
This remains one of the most complicated aspects of immigration law, and you are encouraged to seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney for guidance on how it affects your case.