Family-based immigration makes up a large percentage of the overall immigration to the United States. If you are a lawful permanent resident or citizen of the United States, you can sponsor your family to come live in the U.S. However, there are limitations to which family members you are legally allowed to sponsor.
Family of U.S. Citizens
U.S. Citizens are allowed to sponsor spouses, married or unmarried children of any age, parents, and siblings using the I-130 USCIS Form. However, only spouses, unmarried children under 21, and parents are considered immediate relatives with visas readily available without a lengthy processing time.
While citizens can still petition for over 21 or married sons and daughter, as well as siblings, the wait times for these categories vary and can be very lengthy. At the moment, the National Visa Bulletin shows processing times of 6 years for petitions of over 21 unmarried sons or daughter, 12 years for married sons and daughters and over 13 years for sibling petitions.
Family of U.S. Residents
Lawful Permanent Residents are more limited than citizens on the types of family members they can legally sponsor. While citizens can sponsor siblings and over 21 and married sons and daughters, resident may only petition for spouses and unmarried children of any age.
A major difference for permanent residents is that they cannot benefit from the speedy processing of immediate relative petitions. Processing times for family of permanent residents is about two years for spouses and children under 21 and almost seven years for over 21 sons and daughters.
Often times, attaining citizenship prior to petitioning for a family member is a better, faster option.Avvo Article