How to Sponsor a Foreigner

If you are a U.S. citizen or a legal U.S. permanent resident, you can petition for your relatives to come to this country. Employers and businesspeople in the United States can also sponsor a foreign employee to work here. The process of bringing a foreigner into the United States can be very complex and time consuming. It is important for you and the person you are sponsoring to meet the eligibility criteria.

File Form I-130, also known as the Petition for Alien Relative, with United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USICS) for approval. Access the forms from the USCIS website (see Resources) and send the form and copies of your identification (ID card or green card) with the application fee of $420 to the Chicago Lockbox facility. Chicago Lockbox is a central facility and the forms will be transferred to the suitable USCIS Service Center. Consult the USICIS website for appropriate addresses on where to file your petition.

Wait for the USCIS to process the petition you have filed for the beneficiary. There is no standard time for this process because it depends on how many petitions the USCIS has to process at any given time. The agency establishes your relationship with the beneficiary, whether you have enough income to support the beneficiary and if you are above the125% poverty line.

Receive an immigration number from the U.S. State Department through certified mail or email notification. If the Petition for Alien Relative is approved, your relative will receive an immigration number immediately if you are a U.S. citizen. If you are a legal permanent resident, your relative might have to wait longer until there is a number available for him according to the preference system.

Instruct your beneficiary to apply for a green card immigration visa in the U.S. consulate in her country or apply for her through the State Department. You or she will submit a copy of the completed and approved petition and the immigration number. The immigration visa allows the person you are sponsoring to legally get into the United States. Due to the limited number of immigrant visas available, it could take several years from the time the USCIS approves your petition to when the State Department issues an immigrant visa number.

Complete a labor certification process through the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) if you are a U.S. employer. If the USDOL approves the certification, petition for your employee to be allowed into the country by filing Form I-140, Immigration Petition for Alien Worker, with the USCIS. The petition will be approved for you to begin applying for the employee to immigrate. Apply for an immigrant worker visa through the U.S. State Department. If the labor certification requirement is waived for a particular employee, then the employee is responsible of applying for an immigrant worker visa by himself in the U.S. consulate office in his country.


  • Send your forms to the correct offices. Make use of United States Immigration and Citizenship Services for any clarifications concerning immigration.

    Follow the legal application procedures to avoid disqualification. Be cautious about paying third parties to facilitate the process.