With so much upheaval taking place across the world, the need for safe, legal immigration to the United States is increasing. Whether due to war, crime, poverty or catastrophic weather, there is no shortage of reasons driving people to seek safe harbor.
Just as there are many reasons for immigrating, there are several methods for obtaining temporary or permanent legal residency in the U.S. The primary way is through family immigration and family-based visas. In these circumstances, the law permits U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to sponsor eligible family members for a permanent residence visa, or “green card.”
Eligibility is based on relationships
The rules for getting a family-based visa are strict, and there are only two groups who are eligible for them. The first group includes immediate relatives. The law defines that as:
- Spouses of U.S. citizens
- Unmarried minor children of U.S. citizens
- Orphans adopted from another country
- Orphans to be adopted by a U.S. citizen within the U.S.
- Parents of U.S. citizens who are 21 years old or older
The second eligible group includes what are called family preference categories. These individuals include:
- Unmarried children of U.S. citizens, their spouses and their children
- Spouses, minor children and unmarried children over 21 years old of lawful permanent residents
- Married children of U.S. citizens and their spouses or married children
- Siblings of U.S. citizens over age 21 and their spouses and minor children
Although this law does not extend to other family members such as grandparents, cousins, or aunts and uncles, it is still an important law as it helps provide physical, financial and emotional stability to the family as they resettle and rebuild their lives in the United States.
Family-based immigration benefits the U.S. by providing assistance to family members so they can work and contribute to U.S. society in a meaningful way. It also increases the opportunities for immigrants to take out loans and start their own businesses, which adds valuable diversity of goods and services to our country.