Family immigration to the USA is permitted for various categories of relative; those applicants who successfully migrate to the US and achieve permanent resident status may bring their spouse or fiance and dependent children to live and work in the USA. Spouse immigration and fiance immigration are served by the K-3 visa and K-1 visa respectively and dependent children may enter on the appropriate derivative USA visa classes, the K-2 visa and K-4 visa.
In America, visa applications may also be submitted for the additional categories of parents and siblings, however, in these instances applicants must be petitioned for by an existing US citizen rather than a permanent resident. Permanent residents in the USA may not bring their parents or siblings to join them, unless they naturalize and are successful in applying for US citizenship. This page will examine the requirements for Migrating to the US as a parent of a United States citizen, the subject of US visas for siblings is discussed in detail on the Sibling page.
USA immigration is based upon one of the most complex set of visa services in the world. More than sixty types of non-immigrant visa exist to cater for those visiting the USA on a short-term basis or entering the country to live and work in the USA for a specific period. In addition, those wishing to immigrate to America on a permanent basis may apply for a Permanent Resident Card for lawful permanent residence, or USA Green card as it is more commonly known through a variety of routes.
The coveted US Green Card affords its holder many, though not all of the benefits enjoyed by American citizens and its advantage lies chiefly in its permanence. Unlike non-immigrant visas for American immigration such as the H1-B visa or L1 visa, which function in a similar manner to a UK work permit, permanent residency, when awarded to parents imposes no time limits upon their stay. In addition, unlike most employment-based routes to permanent residency in the USA, no assessment of skills, qualifications or experience is necessary and no offer of employment must be in place.
In America, immigration for employment based Green-Card routes is based largely on a pre-arranged job offer. Only in the case of EB-1 visas for priority workers, EB-5 visas for investors and in some cases the EB-2 visa can a candidate migrate, much like the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme or HSMP in the UK on the basis of their skills and experience. In all other permanent residency routes, a job offer is imperative. However, like all family visa routes, parents immigrating to the US through a petitioning American citizen need not be assessed on any of these criteria; this visa service is based entirely upon family connections.
As already discussed, the key eligibility requirement for parents immigrating to America is that they are sponsored by a current American citizen. This entails a range of responsibilities for both the parent(s) migrating to the USA and for the sponsoring citizen.
Responsibilities of the sponsor
The sponsoring United States citizen must accept legal responsibility for their parents in terms of financial support. This means that the sponsor must sign an affidavit of support to this effect, which will endure until the sponsored parent has either become a USA citizen or can be credited with 10 years of work. In addition, if the sponsored relative should at any time receive any means-tested public benefits, the responsibility to repay these will lie with the sponsor.
Sponsors must also be able to demonstrate that they meet the financial eligibility requirements to qualify as a sponsor. The household income must equate to 125% or more of the US poverty level for the household size.
Responsibilities of the Sponsored Parent
Parents being sponsored by a US citizen will also be responsible for part of the process. The initial stage of immigrating to the US in this manner involves an immigrant visa petition being filed by the sponsor and approved by the United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Beyond this, the parent or parents must go to the US consulate in their country in order to complete the process.
As legal permanent residents in the USA, parents who successfully enter the country through sponsorship from United State citizens will be entitled to live in the USA indefinitely. As with other routes to an American Green Card, a grant of permanent residency permits the holder to commence living and working in the USA. Successful candidates may therefore seek and undertake employment upon receipt of their Permanent Residence Cards.