Can I start my family petition to bring over extended family once I’m a U.S. citizen?

It is very common to hear from a freshly naturalized US citizen is that they want to sponsor their family members so they can join them in the United States and enjoy the benefits of living and working in the US. However, not every family member will be eligible to be petitioned for US permanent residency or the green card.

The law is specific on what constitutes a family member as it applies to US immigration. As a rule, extended family members are not part of the “family unit”. The notion that extended families, such as grandparents, nephews, nieces, cousins, aunts, uncles, parents-in-law, and other extended family members, are eligible for sponsorship is simply not correct. Instead, the law allows US citizens to petition for the following family members: “parents, spouses, fiancés, minor-unmarried children, married children or adult children, brothers and sisters, unmarried children and spouse.” Permanent residents, or green card holders, can also petition family members but they are limited to sponsoring spouses, and unmarried children only.

Can a family petition can be stopped or withdrawn? The answer is “Yes.” Whenever family dynamics are at play, the petitioner may have a change of heart and decide he does not want to follow through with his sponsorship. A petitioner can withdraw the petition even after it has been approved. A request to withdraw a petition once received by the USCIS is final. But once the beneficiary has actually received his permanent residency status, the petitioner can no longer withdraw his sponsorship.