Family Reunification - Family Reunification in The United States

Family Reunification in The United States

See also: Immigration to the United States and History of laws concerning immigration and naturalization in the United States

Family reunification in the United States is the primary criterion for immigration to the United States, and it is governed by the terms of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended. Historically, the emphasis on family reunification in American immigration law began in that 1965 act by allotting 74% of all new immigrants allowed into the United States to family reunification visas. Those included, in descending preference, unmarried adult children of U.S. citizens (20%), spouses and unmarried children of permanent resident aliens (20%), married children of U.S. citizens (10%), and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens over age 21 (24%).

Citizens and permanent residents of the United States may sponsor relatives for immigration to the United States in a variety of ways. Citizens of any age may sponsor their heterosexual spouses and their children, but only citizens who have reached the age of 21 may sponsor siblings and parents. Permanent residents may only sponsor spouses and unmarried children. In all cases, the sponsor must demonstrate the capacity to support their relative financially at 125% of the poverty level, and provide proof of the relationship. Immediate relatives of United States citizens (spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21 years of age) are automatically eligible to immigrate upon approval of their application. All other people eligible to immigrate through a family member must wait for a place; a preference system governs the order at which these places become available. Citizens may only sponsor siblings, spouses, parents, and children. They cannot sponsor aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, grandparents, or grandchildren, though in some cases such relations may enjoy derivative status.

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