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U S immigration: How and when to petition for family members

British Columbia residents who have been living and working in the United States for some time might want to make these circumstances more permanent. That is an important decision to make because it might mean leaving close family members behind. However, there are ways under U.S. Immigration laws by which to resolve this issue.

As a permanent resident with a green card, this person will be allowed to petition for his or her spouse and unmarried children only, regardless of their age. Sponsoring other family members is only permitted once the petitioner becomes a U.S. citizen. Being the holder of a green card is not enough because that just makes the holder a permanent resident, and it allows him or her to apply for U.S citizenship after two years and nine months.

At that time, U.S. citizens who are older than 21 years can petition for other family members. These include his or her parents and children of any age and marital status, as well as brothers and sisters. However, although petitioning for siblings is allowed, it could be years before they receive green cards. To speed this up, it might be best if the permanent resident brings his or her parents first, and they can then sponsor the other siblings together.

Dealing with U.S. immigration laws could be overwhelming, but help is available. Some British Columbia residents in similar situations rely on the skills of a lawyer who has experience in dealing with these issues. Legal counsel can explain the requirements and procedures involved and assist with all matters related to green cards, U.S. citizenship and sponsoring of loved ones.