USA and the UK
Overview of Bringing Your Sibling to the USA
Bringing your sibling to the USA requires you to undergo the family sponsorship process to get them a Family-Based Green Card. This process is possible if you are a citizen of the US. You can expect this process to take as long as ten years, and some cases have been reported to take over 25 years.
There are much quicker ways that your sibling can come to the USA. For example, if they find a job then they will be able to get a work visa within a matter of weeks. However, these tend to only last for six years, and only a Green Card can allow your sibling to transition to immigrant status permanently.
What is a Green Card?
Green Cards can take a long time to obtain, but they can also bring your sibling to the USA with longevity. It gives them the right to live and work in the USA for life with protection under US law. However, it also comes with a host of obligations:
- Protection under US law.
- Filing income tax returns to the US Internal Revenue Service and state tax authorities.
- Supporting the US democracy.
- Registering for Selective Service if they are a male between 18 and 25.
They will also be able to apply for citizenship once they have become eligible.
Eligibility Criteria for Sponsoring a Sibling Green Card
There are a range of requirements that will determine if you are able to bring your sibling to the USA on a Green Card. They include the following:
- You are their legal sibling. This includes by birth, adoption, step-parents, or paternal half-siblings.
- You are a US citizen. Legal permanent residents can sponsor some family members but not siblings.
- You are at least 21 years old.
Once you have understood that you will be able to sponsor your sibling to get a Family-Based Green Card, you will be ready to start the application process. This can be very lengthy, but it will go quicker if you make sure that all three forms are prepared properly.
Forms for Making Your Visa Petition
Submitting your visa petition for your sibling to become a Green Card holder requires three key forms:
- Form I-130.
- Form I-485.
- Form I-864
Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative)
This document is where you prove that you have a valid relationship with the family member you are sponsoring. To sponsor your brother or sister, you must prove that you are a US-citizen sibling.
You can file this document by post if you live in the US. Your closest USCIS location can be found on their website. Once it has been received, it will be sent to a service center for processing. A filing fee of $535 will apply, and you can expect to wait around 13 to 19 months.
Once it has been received, you will formally be recognized as the “petitioner,” and your brother or sister will be considered the “beneficiary.” Approval of this Form I-130 does not mean your sibling will become a Green Card holder. Instead, it opens the door to your application.
Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Resident)
Having had a successful result from your Form I-130, it is time to begin your formal application in a process known as consular processing.
If your sibling is already in the US on an immigrant visa, they must use Form I-485 to adjust their status. However, they need to be careful with this as the application will not be accepted if they are in the USA illegally, and it could lead to detainment and deportation by border authorities.
Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support)
The final form before your brother or sister can become a Green Card holder is Form I-864, which you must complete as a citizen petitioner.
This form is a contract between yourself and the US government, which confirms that you will be responsible for your sibling’s wellbeing while in the USA and have the means to support them financially as necessary.
The US government defines that you must have an income of 125% of the Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines. This exact figure is different depending on the state that you are in, so make sure to research what the minimum is in your area.
What Documentation does my Sibling Need?
While submitting these three forms, you will need to compile a range of documentation to support your application. All Green Card applications usually require the following from the applicant:
- Recent photographs.
- Applicant’s biography.
- Financial information such as bank statements.
- Work and academic background documentation.
- Character references.
- Criminal records (if the applicant has one).
- Birth certificate.
However, there is further documentation required that is specific when sponsoring family members for a Green Card. Primarily, this is your and your sibling’s birth certificates. These documents must show that you have one or two common parents.
Sponsoring a sibling also requires you to be a US citizen, and you must provide a copy of one of the following pieces of documentation to prove this:
- Valid US passport.
- US birth certificate.
- Consular Report of Birth Abroad.
- Naturalization certificate
- Certificate of citizenship.
The Family-Based Green Card application waiting list is divided into four sections defined by preference categories. The first preference category has the shortest waiting list, and the fourth preference category has the longest. The categories are as follows:
- First preference category: citizens with unmarried children who are over 21 years old.
- Second preference category: A lawful permanent resident’s unmarried children under 21 years old or spouse.
- Third preference category: The married children of a US citizen.
- Fourth preference category: siblings of a US citizen who is at least 21 years old.
You can see that bringing a sibling to the USA on a Green Card has the lowest preference. This means that it could take a long time for the application to be processed. You can expect a minimum of ten years with some cases taking as long as 25 years.
The quickest applications are the ones that get accepted on the first attempt. However, getting a refusal does not mean your sibling won’t have a chance to become a Green Card holder. On the refusal letter, they can find an explanation for why their Green Card was refused and how they can access an appeal form.
This appeal must be filed with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services within 30 days of receiving your refusal, and then you will need to wait months more for a decision.
It is clear that having to make an appeal will severely delay your sibling’s plans to come to the USA as a Green Card holder.
Home Country Limits
Another factor that will change how long your sibling has to wait to become a Green Card holder is the per-country limits. Every country that the US accepts Green Card applications from has a limit for how many permanent residents can be welcomed.
You will have a long wait if your sibling’s home country has an abnormally high amount of applicants. Similarly, they must wait a shorter amount of time if there are few applicants.
However, you don’t have to wait in uncertainty for your application to be processed. The Department of State releases a Visa Bulletin. This Visa Bulletin will show your sibling’s position on the queue. It will show a priority date for the application to be processed, which will have been given after Form I-130 was approved.
All these factors add up to a difficult situation whereby wait times can be a minimum of ten years. In some cases, the wait time can extend to 25 years. This is most common for applications from Mexico, India, and the Philippines. For this reason, it is crucial that your sibling completes their application properly so that there are no delays.
Furthermore, because of the extended waiting time, it might be sensible to look at options for them to come to the US temporarily. Encourage your sibling to research if they would be able to get an employment visa.
There are a range of ways that Immigration Advice Service US can help your sibling come to the USA more quickly. Our experienced immigration attorney team can help you and your sibling with their Green Card application. Also, our immigration advisors can help your sibling to understand what other options are available to them while they wait for their Green Card to be accepted.
To find out more about what we offer, call us today at +1 844 290 6312 or online.
Last modified on June 15th, 2023 at 10:23 am
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You are able to sponsor siblings by adoption, step-parents, or paternal half-siblings to obtain permanent residence. However, there are some additional requirements that you must fulfill.
Siblings by adoption will require you to provide a copy of the adoption decree. This must show that the adoption occurred before either of you were 16 years old.
Step siblings require two documents. Firstly, they need documents proving that their birth parents’ prior marriage had been terminated. This includes a divorce decree. They also need a copy of the marriage certificate of the step-parent to the birth parent.
Finally, paternal half-siblings require copies of marriage certificates from your father to each mother. In this case, you will also need documentation proving that any prior marriages between the fathers and mothers were legally terminated.
You will still be able to submit all your documentation as usual if you or your sibling has changed their name. However, you will have to provide evidence that the legal name change has occurred.
If you do this, your application will not be slowed down. However, there will be delays if you don’t, and the name discrepancy causes the application to be rejected.
For many people trying to come to the USA, it is astonishing and disheartening that they may have to wait decades for their application to be processed. This long waiting time can be mystifying, especially considering that over 226,000 Family-Based Green Cards are issued each year.
However, of all these Green Cards, just 65,000 are issued to siblings of US citizens at the lowest preference category. A combination of this low number of Green Cards available and the incredibly high number of applicants means you are guaranteed a long waiting time.