Sponsorship: One of the most common ways to immigrate to the United States is through family sponsorship. The family in the Immigration Context includes: parents, adult children, spouses and brothers and sisters. In most cases extended family cannot convey any immigration benefits to foreigners. One or two exceptions to this rule exist.

A U.S. parent, spouse, adult child, or brother and sister may sponsor a family member for Immigrant visa by submitting a petition called an alien relative petition. The parent, spouse, adult child or brother and sister are then considered sponsors and the family member is considered the beneficiary. The sponsorship process may take several years up to a decade or more depending on the relationship of the sponsor to the beneficiary and the country from which the beneficiary is coming. In addition, the sponsor must demonstrate the (s)he has sufficient income or assets to prevent the beneficiary from becoming a burden on the public welfare system.

Lawful Permanent Residents of the United States may only sponsor their children and spouses. They cannot sponsor their parents, or their siblings.

Fiancé(e)s: Only U.S. Citizens can sponsor a fiancé(e). (S)he must be able to demonstrate that (s)he has met the fiancé(e) and will marry him or her within 90 days of his or her arrival. Failure to get married within the specified time will most likely result in the fiancé(e)’s inability to remain permanently in the U.S.

Marriages: Individual’s immigrating through marriage must demonstrate that the marriage is bona fide. Both the sponsoring spouse and the beneficiary must present documentary proof that they are living together and have plans to build a life together. Marriages suspected of fraud or which are fraudulent in nature will encourage heightened scrutiny by an Immigration Officer. A couple found to have fraudulent marriage may be prosecuted and fined $10,000 to $250,000, in addition to receiving a prison sentence and subsequent deportation for the immigrating spouse.

For more information including what forms and fees are necessary to complete the sponsorship process contact the local Immigration Office, U.S.C.I.S. website at, or consult an Immigration Attorney.