As a U.S. citizen, you may want to help your loved ones join you in Illinois, Wisconsin or another part of the country for any number of reasons. A common method of doing so involves securing what is known as a green card.

To obtain a green card, per United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, your loved one must meet certain relationship criteria, and they also must have you serve as a sponsor. Essentially, the sponsor role involves demonstrating that you are financially prepared to support your relative after they arrive in the country, and you will need to meet certain financial qualifications in order to move forward with the process.

In order for you to file a petition on your relative’s behalf, the relative must be a close family member, and you must be able to produce documentation that proves the familial relationship. Eligible family members include spouses and children, regardless of whether those children are married or unmarried, and parents, brothers and sisters may also be considered as long as you, the sponsor, are over the age of 21.

To take the first step in the process, you will need to file a Petition for an Alien Relative using Form I-130. Your sponsorship and filing of the petition essentially gives your loved one a place in line with others who are looking to do the same, but it is important to note that precedence is often given to spouses, parents and children under the age of 21 who are not married. Eventually, your loved one may be granted the right to lawfully reside in the United States on a permanent basis, provided he or she meets admission requirements and successfully passes all background checks. 

This information on helping a relative become permanent U.S. residents is educational in nature and not meant to serve as formal legal advice.