A U.S. citizen is able to sponsor his child over the age of 21 for a Family-based Green Card through Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.
A child over the age of 21 is not considered to be an immediate relative. The process of getting a Green Card is therefore significantly longer than when the child is under the age of 21.
Immediate relatives are, according to immigration law, the spouses, unmarried children under age 21, and parents of U.S. citizens. As immediate relatives, these family members always have a visa number immediately available. There are an unlimited number of visas for these particular family members. This means they have priority and do not have to wait in line for their Green Cards.
Family Preference Category
A child who is not married but is over the age of 21 fits into the family preference category. Other family members in the family preference category are the following:
- Married children of any age
- Brothers and sisters of the U.S. Citizen (In this instance, the U.S. citizen must be over the age of 21.)
As dictated by Congress, family members who fit into the family preference category have a limited number of immigrant visas available to them. Children over the age of 21 are in the Family First Preference. The limit of these Green Cards is of 23,400 Green Cards issued per year.
When the number of applications is more than the number of Green Cards available, applicants have to wait in line, so to speak. The Green Cards are issued in chronological order from the date when the application was filed. That date becomes the applicant’s priority date, and it’s impossible for a person to get a Green Card before that priority date has been reached.
The result of this system is that the waiting period of an applicant can be several years or more.