Permanent residents can petition their spouse and unmarried children

Permanent residents can petition their spouse and unmarried children

Many legal permanent residents (LPR or green card holders) mistakenly believe only US citizens can petition family members. Even after they obtain their green cards, they still wait many years until they finally become citizens, before they petition family members.

This belief is WRONG! LPRs are able to petition the following family members:

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried children, whether the children are under or over 21 years of age.

It is true there are certain family members who can only be petitioned by US citizens. Those family members include (aside from the above):

  • Parents
  • Married children
  • Brothers and sisters

However, there is no need or reason for an LPR to wait to become a US citizen to petition his or her spouse or unmarried children. In fact, waiting to become a US citizen could result in several years of delays and separation. For example, if a person obtains a green card, ordinarily, he or she has to wait five years before being eligible to apply for US citizenship. It may take another one year for their naturalization application to be processed, and for them to finally take the oath of citizenship. So, they have now sat back for approximately six years before they finally file a petition for a spouse or unmarried child.

Had they filed the petition for their spouse or unmarried child as soon as they received their green card, the spouse or child would have already been eligible for their own green card and eligible to file for citizenship after 5 years! Instead, six years were lost, while the petitioner waited to become a US citizen.

If you are about to become an immigrant, or are already an immigrant, and want to petition your family members, you should seek the advice of an attorney about the best and fastest way to do so. In some cases, these family members might be included under your petition as derivatives. In some instances, it may not be beneficial to naturalize, especially if seeking to qualify a child under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), unless you can naturalize before that child’s 21st birthday. Also, sometimes it may be necessary to become a US citizen before the family member can be petitioned to obtain a green card in the US. That’s why, rather than relying on hearsay, gossip, or the wrong information, seek the advice of an attorney who can set you straight on the best and fastest avenue for petitioning your family members and being reunited with them in the US.

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