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Sponsorship through family and employment is among the most common means of getting a Green Card. American citizens and permanent residents can be sponsors of family members petitioning for Green Cards or seeking to adjust their status with respect to their immigration to the United States.
"Immediate relatives" of US citizens is a category that includes spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents. These relatives have visa numbers immediately available when they apply for a Green Card. Unmarried children over 21, married children of any age, and siblings of US citizens are classified under the family preference category and do not have a visa number immediately available when petitioning. These relatives have to wait until their priority date, or the date on which a US citizen sponsor correctly filed the petition with the USCIS, becomes current.
Children of US citizens who are under 21 and unmarried are Immediate Relatives; they have a visa number immediately available. The US citizen sponsor has to file Form I-130 to establish the family relationship. Once the form is approved, a visa number for the child is immediately available. The child will then have to petition for a status adjustment to permanent resident if he/she is already living in the US. If the child is living outside the US, he or she will have to apply for an immigration visa; it is issued by the Department of State.
Unmarried children (over the age of 21) of US citizens fall under the first preference category. Married sons and daughters (any age) of US citizens fall under the third preference category. Unmarried children (any age) of permanent residents fall under the second preference category. The sponsor will have to file Form I-130 to establish the familial relationship, and, when approved, these children will have to wait for visa numbers to become available. When their priority date becomes current and a visa number is available, they will have to apply to adjust their status to permanent resident if they are already living in the US; or apply for an immigration visa if they are living outside the US.
To promote family unity, immigration law allows US citizens to file a petition for certain qualified relatives to come and live permanently in the United States. Eligible immediate relatives include a US citizen's spouse (see Green Card Through Marriage Application), unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents if the US citizen is over the age of 21 (see Green Card Through Parent(s) Application).
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