As a U.S. citizen, can I petition for my father and his brother to immigrate?

U.S. citizens can petition for parents, but not for aunts and uncles.


I recently became a naturalized citizen of the United States, age 57. My mother passed away several years ago, and my father has been living with his brother in our home country, China, ever since. The two of them are getting elderly, and they take good care of each other. I would like to bring my father to the U.S. so that I can help care for him, and can spend time with him in his last years. However, I worry about what will happen to both him and my uncle if the two of them are separated. Is there any way I can petition for my uncle to immigrate as well?


Realistically, there is no path to U.S. immigration that will help the uncle of a U.S. citizen within a short enough time frame to be helpful. Parents of U.S. citizens are considered “immediate relatives” under U.S. immigration law, and can immigrate right away, or at least as soon as they can make it through all the application requirements (including an interview at the U.S. consulate).

If your father had remarried, he would be eligible to bring the spouse, as a “derivative.” However, his brother is not legally considered a derivative.

What’s more, you cannot directly petition for your uncle. No such category (uncles of U.S. citizens) exists.

The only way in which your uncle could eventually immigrate based on the family relationships you have described is if your father eventually becomes a U.S. citizen (which will take at least five years after he becomes a U.S. lawful permanent resident) and then petitions for him as the brother of a U.S. citizen. But because of annual limits on visas in this category (which Congress may eventually do away with anyway), and huge demand, the wait for a visa to become available is typically from ten to 25 years. As we said, it’s not a realistic path.

You might want to explore the possibility of temporary visas for your uncle, though this is not likely to enable him to come to the U.S. for more than a few months at a time. An experienced immigration attorney can take a closer look at your family’s situation and further help with strategy.

Talk to a Lawyer

Need a lawyer? Start here.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you
Swipe to view more

Talk to an Immigration attorney.

We've helped 85 clients find attorneys today.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you