Can a U.S. Citizen Sponsor More than One Person?
Updated: Jun 28, 2022
A U.S. citizen or LPR may sponsor more than one person to immigrate to the U.S.
If a citizen or LPR sponsors someone through “family preference” that person may bring his spouse or under-21 unmarried children on the same petition.
If a citizen sponsors an immediate relative, the relative may not bring anyone on the same petition – the citizen has to file multiple petitions.
This is the second post in a three-part series. In last week's post, we discussed what relatives a U.S. citizen, or lawful permanent resident (LPR) may sponsor to become lawful permanent residents of the U.S. In next week’s post, we will discuss what happens if a child turns 21 while the petition is pending, and what happens if a relative marries or divorces while the petition is pending.
How to Sponsor More Than One Relative
If you sponsor someone through “family preference”, that person may bring his spouse and unmarried children under 21, without anyone having to file an extra petition. The person you sponsor is your “beneficiary”; the family members that he can bring with him are “derivative beneficiaries.”
If you sponsor an “immediate relative”, your beneficiary may not bring derivative beneficiaries. You must file a separate petition for each relative brought under the immediate relative category.
1. You are a lawful permanent resident (LPR). You file a petition for your spouse under family preference. When USCIS grants your spouse’s petition, your spouse may bring her unmarried children under 21, as derivative beneficiaries.
2. You are a U.S. citizen. You file a petition for your spouse as an immediate relative. Your spouse may not bring her unmarried children under 21 on this same petition, because immediate relatives of U.S. citizens may not bring derivative beneficiaries. You would have to file a separate petition for each child to come to the U.S. as an immediate relative. (Even if your spouse’s children are not your children, you could still sponsor them to come to the U.S., because stepchildren count as “children”, as long as the stepparent married the parent before the stepchild turned eighteen.)
3. You are a U.S. citizen. You file a petition for your married child under family preference. Your married child can bring his spouse and children, as derivative beneficiaries.
4. You are a U.S. citizen over 21. You file a petition to bring your parents as immediate relatives. You would have to file a separate petition for each parent, and neither parent could bring any relatives as derivative beneficiaries.