Can an unemployed petitioner file a relative petition?

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Yes. There is no USCIS requirement that the petitioner be employed in order to file a relative petition. However, in order for the U.S. embassy or consulate to issue an immigrant visa, evidence must be presented that the petitioner is able to financially support a foreign relative upon entry into the United States. If the petitioner is unemployed at the time of the embassy or consulate interview, a co-sponsor (a person other than the petitioner) may present evidence demonstrating their ability to financially support the foreign relative.