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Requirements for family immigration visas and U.S. citizenship

| May 26, 2020 | Immigration Law

Lawful permanent residents and U.S. citizens living in Colorado have the right to sponsor their close family members for a Permanent Resident Card, also known as a “green card.” Individuals in the U.S. over the age of 21 who already hold a green card may sponsor a family-based immigration visa. This can help their spouses or unmarried minor children who are still living outside the U.S. to come join them. 

U.S. immigration laws place limitations on the number of immigrants obtaining permanent residency each year. Some individuals may experience a long waiting period before they can move to the U.S. and join their spouses or parents. 

Sponsorship by naturalized citizens for parents, siblings and married adult children 

Individuals who have naturalized as U.S. citizens may then also sponsor their parents and siblings for an immigration visa. According to the U.S. Department of State, all immediate relatives can apply at that time. There are no limits to the number of yearly applicants. 

Depending on the circumstances, the timeframe for successfully petitioning a family-based immigration visa could take several years. As reported by PBS, it may take about eight years for naturalized U.S. citizens to successfully sponsor unmarried adult children. Siblings and married adult children may take 14 years to obtain a family member visa. 

Citizenship requirements for green card holders 

A lawful permanent resident must live in the U.S. for at least five years before applying for citizenship. The applicant must complete a 10-step process that requires proof of basic English reading and speaking skills. An individual must also correctly answer six out of 10 questions about American history and civics. About 67% of eligible immigrants naturalize, according to the Pew Research Center. 

Waiver applications to obtain a green card sooner 

Some relatives living abroad may apply for a waiver or secure other means of lawfully immigrating to the U.S. in a shorter time. Mistakes in the petition, however, could lengthen the process instead. Previous issues or immigration violations could also cause complications.