Immigration has provided that these family petitions may be filed with Immigration by parents and step-parents who be united with their children or step-children; U.S. citizen children who are over the age of 21 to be united with their parents; husbands and wives to be united with their spouses; brothers and sisters to be joined by their siblings; and sometimes even grand-parents may be able to help their grandchildren to immigrate, depending how they became citizens and depending on the current status of the parents of the grandchildren. This sometimes avoids the longer wait when a parent with lawful residence is petitioning.
A United States citizen may file a relative petition on behalf of his or her spouse, child who is under the age of 21, parent or step child who was under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage between the U.S. citizen and the foreign spouse. These relatives are considered an immediate relatives and there is no immigration waiting list in this category. The only time involved is the time it takes to process and approve the petition and application for residence. NOTE carefully that the person filing the petition for his or her parent must be over the age of 21 when he or she files the petition. The child being sponsored by the citizen parent MUST be under the age of 21 at the time of the actual application for residence, not only at the time the petition is filed.
A United States resident may also file a relative petition on behalf of his or her spouse or child who is under 21. However, s/he cannot file a petition on behalf of a married child; a child who is over the age of 21, or a parent. U.S. citizens are the only ones permitted to petition on behalf of their parents; children over 21, and married children, or brothers and sisters.
The categories that do not fall within the “immediate relative” class are called a “preference” categories and there is a visa waiting list which may cause the process to take several years. In the case of spouses and children under the age of 21, the waiting list is shorter – depending on the country involved. In the case of unmarried children and children over the age of 21, however, the waiting period can be much longer – again depending on the country involved. In this case the child has to be 21 years old at the time of the application for residence, even if the petition was filed before the child was 21 years old.
Relative petitions also include fiancé/e petitions which may be filed by United States citizens to immigrate their fiancé/es or who are in the United States or overseas. These petitions, when approved by Immigration, gives the beneficiaries of the petitions the right to apply for permanent residence at the United States embassy if they remain overseas, or at the Immigration Service office nearest to their residence if they are in the United States.
These petitions permit an individual to enter the United State within approximately 6 months.
In the case of fiancée petitions, the fiancé or fiancée will be eligible to apply for adjustment of status to that of permanent resident in the United States after they enter on an approved fiancée petition and marry their United States fiancée or fiancé.
NOTE: Lawful permanent residents do not have the right to file a fiancee petition on behalf of their fiancées.