Brothers and Sisters of the U.S. citizen

The U.S. citizen, who is over 21 years old, can petition for their brother or sister along with their spouses and children to live in the U.S. as green card holders. Sponsoring your siblings to become permanent residents is one of the privileges in immigration law that belongs only to the U.S. citizen. Permanent residents may not petition to bring their brothers or sister to live permanently in the United States. So, if you want to help your siblings to immigrate to the U.S., you should apply first for citizenship as soon as you are eligible.

To qualify as a brother or sister of the U.S. citizen, both the brother or sister and the U.S. citizen must have been children of the same parent.

Immigration Bringing your siblings brother and sister to U.S.

How Long Does It Take?

In order to keep the control over the quantity of aliens that come to the U.S. every year, federal government issues certain amount of immigrant visas for family members, that live in foreign countries. Since the quantity of immigrants that want to reuntie with their family members in the U.S. is significantly big, the USCIS developed the “family preference categories list” which basically divided all foreign relatives into two categories: imediate family members and other family members. Immediate family members catergory includes spouse, parents and children under 21 years old of the U.S. citizen. Other family members category covers unmarried son or daugter over 21 years old, married son or daughter, siblings. The main purpose for creating two categories was to expedite the process of bringing immediate family members to the U.S.

Under Immigration and Nationality Act, siblings of the U.S. citizen are classified as family members not as immediate relatives and are placed at the bottom of the family preference list (F4 category). As soon as you start immigration process for your sibling, he/she will be assigned a “priority date” and placed on the waiting list for an immigrant visa. You will need to start tracking the progress of priority dates in F4 category by monitoring State Department’s Visa Bulletin to determine when immigrant visa number for your brother or sister becomes available. But because so many people have already applied under this category in the past, the wait is considerably long. Typically, the average wait time for most of countries is 12 years. Furthermore, because the U.S. limits the number of immigrant visas available by country for this category, your siblings may have to wait longer if they come from India, China, Mexico, Philippines (average wait is 25 years).

Even after the wait is over, processing a green card application may take several months. That’s why it is important to have an experienced immigration attorney on your side who can assist you in this long-expected process as even a little mistake made at the stage of filing an immigration petition on behalf of your siblings can cost you several years of wait.

How To Bring My Brother And Sister To The U.S.?

There are two scenarios for brothers or sisters of the U.S. citizen to get a green card:

  1. The first scenario is that the brother or sister is already in the United States in a nonimmigrant status. In this case, the U.S. citizen may only file an immigration petition on behalf of their brother or sister and wait for the immigrant visa number to become current. During this waiting period, the brother or sister needs to independently maintain a valid nonimmigrant status in the U.S. (e.g. on students or business visa). If by the time the immigrant visa number became available, brother or sister of the U.S. citizen is still in the U.S., he or she may apply to adjust non-immigrant status to permanent resident (Form I-485).

    Brothers or sisters are illegally in the U.S.?

    If your brother or sister is illegally in the U.S. (overstayed their visa or failed to maintain their non-immigrant status in the U.S.) at the time when immigrant visa number became available for them, they will not be able to get a green card. Living in the U.S. without authorization can lead to accruing “unlawful presence” preventing them from adjusting their illegal status to permanent resident status.

  2. The second scenario is that the brother or sister is outside the United States.In this case, the U.S. citizen and siblings need to go through few steps to get a green card:

    1. I.  Filing the immigration petition by the U.S. citizen on behalf of his sister or brother (I-130). Filing the immigration petition by the U.S. citizen on behalf of his sister or brother (I-130). To start the process of immigration for your siblings, you will need to file Form I-130 with accompanying documents. It will take few years for USCIS to approve immigrant petition depending on the siblings’ home country.

      II.  Obtaining an Immigrant Visa Number. If the immigrant visa petition is approved, your brother or sister must wait for an immigrant visa number to become available according to the preference system. Because the number of immigrant visa numbers that are available each year is limited several years could pass between the time USCIS approves the immigrant visa petition and the State Department provides an immigrant visa number. Because U.S. law limits the number of immigrant visas available by country, they may have to wait longer if they come from a country with high demand for U.S. immigrant visas.

      III.  Case Processing and Interview Preparation. Once the immigrant visa number becomes available, the petition will be forwarded to the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in the sibling’s home country for processing. Sibling will be instructed to file an application for an immigrant visa in the consulate or embassy in his/her country. After applying for an immigrant visa, sibling must appear for a visa interview. If the interview is successful, an immigrant visa will be issued to the sibling enabling him/her to enter the U.S.

      IV.  Entering the U.S.An immigrant visa is valid for a maximum period of six months from the date of issuance. Sibling must travel and apply for admission to the United States within that six months period. On the day that the brother or sister enters the United States on an immigrant visa, he or she becomes permanent resident.

If you have additional questions about immigration to the United States, please contact us or schedule a consultation.