If you are a US citizen or permanent resident with close family members outside the country, you can help them gain a green card and possibly permanent residency or citizenship. However, not every relative can receive a green card or immigrant visa.
Therefore, this is how you can help your family.
If you are a US Citizen, immediate family includes your spouse, parents and children only. This includes any step and adopted children. However, only those over 21 years of age can petition for their relatives to receive a green card. You need to file Form I-130 for every member of your family. Immediate family is eligible for immigrant visas, so these individuals likely will not have to wait for green cards. Widows or widowers, have two years after the death of their spouse to petition for a green card for themselves and their children.
Although immediate family receives special consideration, more distant family members need to wait for the approval of their green card applications. In addition, you can petition for your relative’s immediate family to receive green cards. As long as your relatives receive their green cards, their immediate families should receive their green cards.
Some of your family members will receive preference over others. For example, any children under 21 are likely to receive their green cards or immigrant visas first if you are a citizen. If you are a permanent resident, your spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age fall into the second preference category. Married children, whether you are a US citizen or a legal permanent resident, fall within the third preference category. Finally, you can petition for your siblings to gain green cards if you are a citizen, but they fall into the fourth preference category. The level of preference impacts the length of time your relatives have to wait for their green cards or immigration visas.
Your relatives need to stay out of the US while the government processes their applications and your petition. Approval requires only legal immigration.