Three Things You Should Know About Sponsoring Relatives For Immigration

If you are an American citizen or a legal resident of the United States, you can sponsor certain family members and bring them into the country legally. However, there are a few things you need to know about the process.

Not all family members can be sponsored

U.S. immigration laws state that you can only sponsor immediate family members, and the definition of what constitutes your immediate family is clear. You are allowed to sponsor a brother, sister, father or mother. You can sponsor your children, but only a citizen can sponsor adult children. A legal resident can only sponsor minor children. You can also sponsor your spouse who you married in another country but is still living in that country. If you married your spouse here in the U.S., he or she will be able to obtain a green card, but they must have entered the country legally.

You must be able to demonstrate a financial obligation

The reason for this is that the United States doesn't want people being sponsored, and then financially abandoned, so they then become dependent on government welfare programs. So when you file a petition to sponsor someone who is eligible for legal residency, you will be asked to list your income and assets. You will also need to include documentation of your income and assets that will accompany the petition. However, if you do not have enough income to support someone, you may be able to list other family members who will share this financial obligation with you.

Your financial obligation will not be permanent

There are limitations for the time you are on the hook to support the sponsored family member. Obviously, if the person has died, the obligation ends, but also the situation where he or she goes back to their country of origin to take up permanent residence. If your relative becomes a U.S. Citizen, your obligation ends. Short of these three situations, your relative will have to work for 40 quarters. Since there are four quarters in a year, your obligation will end after 10 years. There are certain exceptions to the length of employment after a green card is issued. The most common is due to a person having already worked a certain amount of time on a work visa.

Although it is possible to get the proper forms and fill them out yourself and gather together any documentation that is required, this is not a good idea. Immigration laws are more complex than what is mentioned above. You need to consult with a family law attorney, so you will understand exactly how the laws apply to those you wish to sponsor.

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