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Dear Sophie: How can I bring my parents and sister to the US?

Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

Extra Crunch members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.


Dear Sophie,

My husband and I are both U.S. permanent residents.

Given what we’ve gone through this past year being isolated from loved ones during the pandemic, we’d like to bring my parents and my sister to the U.S. to be close to our family and help out with our children.

Is that possible?

— Symbiotic in Sunnyvale

Dear Symbiotic,

Thanks for your question! Yes, it’s possible to bring your parents and sister to the United States! We have a lot of clients like you who are looking to reunite with their families. My law partner, Anita Koumriqian, and I discussed in a podcast episode what U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents should know about bringing family members to the United States. In that episode, we also discuss certificates of citizenship for individuals who are U.S. citizens born abroad.

As always, I suggest you consult with an experienced immigration attorney in petitioning for green cards for your parents and sister. An immigration attorney can also discuss alternative immigration options for your sister.

Image Credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (opens in a new window)

Who can I sponsor as a permanent resident? As a U.S. citizen?

U.S. permanent residents — or green card holders — can only sponsor a spouse or unmarried children for a green card. But if you have lived in the U.S. for at least five years as a green card holder, you are eligible to become a U.S. citizen. U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old can sponsor a broader list of family members for green cards: parents, spouses, children and stepchildren, brothers and sisters.

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