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Which family members can you file a petition for?

The two main ways that immigrants enter the United States are for employment reasons or family ties. There are other options, but they see far less traffic.

That said, someone you consider part of your family may not technically count under the immigration system in the United States. It is very important to understand who you can file a petition for. This immigrant visa petition is the first step in the process.

If you are a U.S. citizen, meaning you were born in the United States or you obtained citizenship later on in life, you then have the ability to file a petition for:

  • Your father
  • Your mother
  • Your son
  • Your daughter
  • Your husband
  • Your wife
  • Your brother
  • Your sister

As you can see, the focus is on your immediate family. This can come as a bit of a surprise to someone who is very close to their extended family and wants to file for an uncle or a grandparent, for instance.

If you are a lawful resident of the United States, but not a citizen — meaning you are a permanent resident with a green card — then you can file for:

  • Your husband
  • Your wife
  • Your unmarried son
  • Your unmarried daughter

Here, it is important to note the significant differences for a permanent resident versus a citizen. Though they enjoy some of the same rights, those two statuses are certainly not the same in the government’s eyes.

Regardless of your status or the type of immigration you’re interested in, it is important to understand all of your legal rights and what steps you need to take next.