Foreign Relatives and US Citizenship

Permanent residents and US citizens may help qualifying foreign relatives to petition for citizenship and permanent residence in the US. If you have already been accepted as a natural born US citizen, or naturalized, or if you are currently living in the US during your qualifying permanent residency period, you are able to help your relatives outside the US become US citizens.

In general here is what you need to know to help your family become US citizens. This needs to be done with the assistance of a qualified immigration attorney due to the many recent changes is the USCIS rules.

The person applying for a green card or visa (termed a foreign national) must have a relative that is a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident. They must also be able to show proof of their status and proof of their relationship to the applicant. As you might expect, there are a lot of forms to be filled out during this process, and rather than risk filling out the wrong one and delaying the process, make sure you consult with a competent immigration lawyer. They know precisely which forms you will need, and when and where to file them on your behalf.

The person applying has to also prove their wage (income) is 125% above the poverty line for the whole family, including the applicant. If that isn’t possible then the applicant may become a joint sponsor with another relative. If that isn’t feasible, then the applicant’s assets may be considered.

If the applicant’s relative is a US citizen it must be proven that the applicant is a child under 21 years old; the married son/daughter; brother/sister of a US citizen; spouse or parent of a US citizen. In these instances, there are various qualifying ages that should be checked out by consulting with your immigration attorney.

If the applicant needed a sponsor and that sponsor is a US permanent resident, the sponsor has to prove the applicant is the wife or husband, or unmarried daughter or son. As you can see, this is not the easiest process to follow and there are a lot of areas where having immigration legal counsel will make the difference in the final outcome.

In order for a petition to be filed, you and your immigration lawyer need to be very thorough on your application forms. While this process from start to finish might be complex and cumbersome, the end result will be the happy reuniting of a family; something that most immigration lawyers strive for each day.

Sally Odell – Rifkin & Fox-Isicoff, PA is an immigration lawyer in Miami with immigration law offices in Orlando and Miami Florida. To learn more, visit

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