What Relatives Can a U.S. Citizen Sponsor - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

U.S. citizens can petition the government to bring foreign family members into the country. To do so, the citizen must sponsor his or her family members – but not all family members count. In fact, there’s a popular “chain migration” myth that says an immigrant can sponsor his or her whole family, but it’s almost completely untrue. So what relatives can a U.S. citizen sponsor to come to the United States?

What Relatives Can a U.S. Citizen Sponsor?

If you’re a U.S. citizen, whether you were born here or you naturalized, you can only sponsor your:

  • Parents
  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Siblings

There are restrictions on each category, too, and every family member you sponsor must meet admissibility criteria to come to the country. For example, if U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services finds that one of your family members isn’t of “good moral character,” it will deny your petition to sponsor him or her. In most cases, you must also file an affidavit of support, which says that you’ll provide financial support so that the person you’re sponsoring doesn’t become a public charge (someone who relies on social safety nets, like welfare and federal- or state-funded medical coverage).

Here’s a closer look at each sponsorship category.


To sponsor your parents for immigration purposes, you must be 21 or older. There are no limits on these types of visas, which means your parents don’t have to wait for a number to come up in the government’s system. They can come as soon as the State Department and USCIS process and approve their applications.


Spouses count as immediate relatives, and as such, they’re not subject to visa limits. Like parents, spouses can come to the U.S. when their petitions are reviewed and approved. You must be at least 18 years old to petition for a spouse.


Many children count as immediate relatives, and you must be at least 18 years old to petition for kids to come to the U.S. If your children are minors and they’re unmarried, they’re not subject to visa caps (like parents and spouses). However, if your children are married or they’re over the age of 18, they’re considered “preference relatives,” and they must wait for visa availability.


You can petition to bring your brothers and sisters to the U.S., but like married adult children, the government considers them preference relatives. Additionally, you must be 21 or older to petition for your sibilings.

Do You Need to Know More About What Relatives a U.S. Citizen Can Sponsor?

If you need to know what relatives a U.S. citizen can sponsor, or if you’re ready to start the process of bringing your immediate family members to the United States, we can help. Call us at 414-383-6700 for more information.

Carlos Gamino