Helping a spouse become a U.S. citizen

Citizens of the United States can help their spouses or relatives become a lawful permanent resident by sponsoring their path to citizenship. Part of that sponsorship involves the citizen proving they have the financial means to support their spouse or relative when they come to the U.S.

Relatives who are eligible for petition include the husband or wife and children (married or unmarried) of U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens who are over age 21 can petition for parents, brothers and sisters as well.

The U.S. citizen must begin the process by filing a Petition for Alien Relative document, or Form I-130. This form establishes the relationship between you and your relative or spouse. Applicants can review instructions for this form on USCIS’s website or at their satellite offices in every state.

Once Form I-130 has been filed, the relative will be given a place in line with other immigrants who are waiting to come to the U.S. from that country or region, based on the same type of relationship. When the relative reaches the front of the line, and passes the required background checks and meeting admissions requirements, they maybe be able to immigrate.

Special consideration is given to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, including their spouse, unmarried children under the age of 21 and parents. There is no waiting list to bring these relatives to the U.S. Once their I-130 petition is approved the U.S. Department of State will invite them to apply for an immigration visa.

The combination of high demand and limits set by the U.S. government for how many people can immigrate every year means other, non-immediate relatives may have to wait several years to come to the U.S. When your relative reaches the front of the line, the U.S. Department of State will contact them and invites him or her to apply for an immigrant visa.