The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) carefully limits immigration opportunities. Those who want to lawfully enter the country typically need to apply for visas or green cards before traveling. Many people enter the United States through employment visas or student visas and are then able to stay because they qualify for other immigration opportunities.
Some people can enter the country through family-based immigration. Many immigrants enter the country and they help their family members living abroad to do the same. If you currently reside in the United States legally, can you help your family members enter the country as well?
Your immigration status determines the options
Lawful immigrants at every stage of the process can sometimes help family members enter the country legally. The same is true for non-immigrant workers who have documentation to work in the United States. Those with a visa for school or work can potentially travel to and live in the United States with spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21.
When someone adjusts their status and becomes a permanent resident, they will have more options for helping family members enter the country. There are family immigration programs, including family preference visas, which can help permanent residents bring their spouses and children over the age of 21 who remain unmarried into the United States.
Citizens have the most options available to them. They can help parents and siblings in addition to their other immediate family members. Generally, citizens need to be at least 21 years old to help family members immigrate.
Not all of your family will qualify
Although you can potentially help a loved one secure a visa or a green card, not everyone in your family will actually be able to enter the country legally. Applicants pursuing family-based immigration are subject to the same scrutiny as those applying for a visa on their own merits.
Your loved ones must meet certain medical standards and be able to pass a thorough criminal background check. They will also need to comply with the law while in the United States or risk removal.
Learning more about family-based immigration rules can help you make use of the available immigration programs.