While family immigration remains the primary basis for legal immigration to the U.S., many eligible sponsors (U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents) do not know that there are certain limits when it comes to sponsoring your family members for a visa.
Under our country’s immigration law, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents have a right to sponsor certain family members for a visa that provides them with permanent residence status, or, in other words, a green card. “However, it may not be possible to sponsor all of your family members for a family visa, because there are certain restrictions and limits you should be aware of,” warns our Salt Lake City family immigration attorney from the Familia America Immigration law firm.
Here is everything you need to know about the current limits and requirements regarding the family visa (green card) in Utah and all across the United States.
Who’s eligible to be sponsored for a family visa?
First and foremost, not all of your family members will be eligible to receive a family visa. That is because U.S. immigration law places limits on which family members can be sponsored for immigration. Under the current immigration law, only the following two groups can be sponsored by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident:
- Immediate relatives: spouse, unmarried children under 21, orphans adopted abroad, orphans to be adopted in the U.S., parents of U.S. citizens over the age of 21.
- Family preference categories: unmarried children of U.S. citizens, as well as their own spouses and their children; spouses, children under 18, unmarried children over 21 of lawful permanent residents (LPRs); married children of U.S. citizens with their own spouses and minor children under 18; siblings of U.S. citizens (brothers and sisters) with their own spouses and minor children under 18 (but only if the sponsoring U.S. citizen is at least 21 years old).
As you may have noticed from the above-mentioned two groups, as a U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident, you are not allowed to sponsor such family members as grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws and cousins for a family visa.
How many family members can you sponsor for immigration?
According to immigration statistics in the U.S., an immigrant sponsors an average of approximately 3.5 relatives over his or her lifetime. These relatives typically include the immigrant’s spouse and children (immediate relatives).
“But in no way does it mean that U.S. immigration law limits the number of family members you can sponsor for immigration,” says our experienced family immigration lawyer in Salt Lake City. “Rather, there are certain limits as to how many family visa the U.S. government can issue each fiscal year.”
Under the current U.S. immigration law, only a maximum of 480,000 family visas are available for family immigration each fiscal year. However, here’s where it gets tricky. While the number of immediate relatives (spouses and children) U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents are allowed to sponsor is unlimited (as long as it does not exceed the 480,000 cap), the number of visas issued to the family preference group is determined by subtracting the total number of visas for immediate relatives from 480,000.
But here is where it gets even more complicated. In order to make the process fairer for the family preference categories, immigration requires that at least 226,000 family visas are issued to the family preference group each year (a little more than 47 percent of the 480,000 cap).
Fact: Interestingly, brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens account for only 6 percent of the overall legal immigration in the U.S.
Discover your best family immigration option today
These are not the only limits to family immigration in U.S. law. Under U.S. immigration law, there is a 7 percent cap each year for family visas issued for each country. So if your immediate relatives or family members from the family preference group come from a country that brings many migrants into the U.S. each year, you may want to find out about your other immigration options.
Consult with our Salt Lake City family immigration attorney from the Familia America Immigration law firm to learn more. Call our offices at 801-656-9605 or complete this contact form to schedule a consultation. Se habla Espanol.