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Family-Based Green Cards: Sponsoring Family Members
As a U.S. citizen, you can sponsor your child under age 21, a parent, or your spouse (see Marriage-based green cards) for permanent residence under the "Immediate Relative" category. There is no quota on the number of people who can be admitted annually in this category, so it's often the fastest way to obtain a green card.
If your child, parent or spouse is in the U.S. and entered legally, they may be eligible for an adjustment of status to become a permanent resident, even if their period of authorized entry has expired.
The categories of family-sponsored residence listed below are subject to annual quotas and, because of this, may have waitlists of several years. A U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident (green card holder) may sponsor applicants in these categories. Preference categories include the following:
- First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children
- Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs)
- Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children
- Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age
What Documentation is Needed to Sponsor a Family Member?
In most preference cases, the U.S. citizen or permanent resident must file an I-130, or visa petition, and must provide evidence of their relationship to the foreign relative, such as a birth or marriage certificate or other documentation.