Parents who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPRs) are offered the opportunity to help their children immigrate to the United States.
The process involved – and the circumstances under which parents can act – depends on a parent’s legal status in the U.S., the age and marital status of the child and other specific criteria set by U.S. immigration laws.
U.S. citizens can petition for their children to immigrate to the U.S. when the following opportunities are applicable:
- Immediate Relative (IR) Visas: These visas are available for unmarried children under the age of 21 of U.S. citizens.
- Family Preference (F) Visas: If the child is married and/or over the age of 21, they fall into the family preference category. Specifically, unmarried sons and daughters over the age of 21 are classified as F1, and married sons and daughters of any age are classified as F3.
Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs)
Permanent residents can petition for their children to join them in the U.S., but the options are more limited compared to those available to U.S. citizens:
- F2A Category: This category is for unmarried children under the age of 21 of LPRs. Similar to IR visas for children of U.S. citizens, there is a higher priority for these applicants, but unlike IR visas, there are numerical limits, leading to potential waiting periods.
- F2B Category: For unmarried children over the age of 21 of LPRs. This category has a lower priority compared to F2A and is subject to annual numerical limits, often resulting in longer waiting times.
The process typically involves the U.S. citizen or LPR parent filing a Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This petition establishes the relationship between the parent and the child. Once the petition is approved and a visa becomes available (if applicable), the child can apply for an immigrant visa or adjust their status to a lawful permanent resident if they are already in the U.S.
Parents aiming to help their children immigrate to the U.S. should thoroughly research the specific requirements and restrictions of each visa category. Seeking legal guidance to navigate the complex process as efficiently and effectively as possible is also wise.