Under U.S. immigration law, siblings are eligible for permanent residency through the family-based green card program. To apply for green cards for siblings, a U.S. citizen should sponsor the sibling as a first step by filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. After the approval, the siblings can apply for a green card when visas become available.
This type of green card falls under the fourth preference family (F4) category. However, due to its low priority on the processing list, obtaining a sibling green card can be a lengthy process for permanent residency. This article provides a detailed breakdown of the sponsorship process and the fastest way to bring a sibling to the U.S.A. in 2024.
What Is a Green Card for Siblings?
Can a green card holder sponsor a family member besides a parent or a spouse? Yes, they can.
In simple terms, a green card for siblings means bringing a brother or sister to live in the United States as permanent residents. The process of securing green cards for siblings involves a U.S. citizen filing Form I-130, the USCIS petition for an immigrant relative, to sponsor their brother or sister’s immigration to the United States.
After the approval of Form I-130 and the assignment of a priority date, the green card application can commence. Notably, Form I-130 approval does not grant entry into the U.S.; it only marks the date when one can initiate the green card application process.
Eligibility Requirements for a Sibling Green Card
The petitioner’s age is the first eligibility criterion to sponsor Green Cards for siblings. You must be 21 years old or older and a U.S. citizen. U.S. citizens’ brothers and sisters can apply for green cards based on family relationships. As per USCIS, below are the categories eligible for sibling visas:
- Siblings (brothers or sisters) who share the same birth (biological) parents;
- Half-siblings who are related through one parent who has remarried;
- Step-siblings who are not biologically related but share a parent through remarriage;
- Adopted siblings who are not biologically related but have been legally adopted into the same family.
What Documents Are Needed for the U.S. Sibling Petitioner?
Certain requirements must be met and documented to establish your eligibility as a U.S. citizen petitioner. When completing and submitting Form I-130 to USCIS, you, as the sibling petitioner, are required to include the following documentation:
Proof of U.S. Citizenship
To verify your U.S. citizenship, you can furnish copies of any of the following:
- Naturalization Certificate
- U.S. birth certificate
- U.S. passport
- Certificate of Citizenship
- Consular Report of Birth Abroad
Proof of Relationship with Your Sibling
In addition, it is necessary to compile documents demonstrating the familial relationship between you and your sibling. This can be accomplished by providing copies of the birth certificates of both (or all) siblings. Alongside the items above, you must also include:
- Proof of any legal name changes, if applicable
- Two passport-style photographs
What Documents Are Needed for the I-130 Form for Sibling Green Card?
To apply for a U.S. green card for siblings, you must be a recognized legal sibling of a U.S. citizen sponsoring you. Required supporting documents vary based on your sibling type. For detailed legal definitions, consult I.N.A. Section 101(b)(1) and (2), 8 U.S.C. Section 1101(b)(1) and (2).
Green Card Application and Eligibility for Natural Siblings
In addition to the documentation discussed above, the law requires copies of the birth certificate of U.S. citizens and their siblings to show that they have one common parent.
Green Card Application and Eligibility for Step-Siblings
Eligibility for a sibling visa includes step-siblings, which are siblings through a parent’s marriage. Eligibility criteria include:
- You and your U.S. citizen step-sibling were under 18 when your parents married.
- Your parents’ marriage persists.
Submit Form I-130 alongside proof of the legal end of any previous marriages and your step-parent’s marriage certificate.
Green Card Application and Eligibility for Adoptive Siblings
Siblings through adoption are eligible if:
- The adoption occurred before both children reached 16.
- The adoption was legally valid.
The Form I-130 filing must include the legal adoption decree(s).
Green Card Application and Eligibility for Paternal Half-Siblings
Siblings with the same father but different mothers (half-siblings) are required to provide the following:
- Each mother’s marriage certificate to the shared father.
- Legal documentation of the dissolution of any prior marriages.
Green Card for Siblings Application Process
To initiate a request for your sibling to reside in the United States as a permanent resident with a Green Card, you are required to hold U.S. citizenship and be 21 years of age or older. U.S. permanent residents cannot sponsor siblings for permanent residency. Let’s see what you need to do, step by step!
Step #1: Submit Form I-130 Petition
To start the green card process for siblings, the sponsoring U.S. citizen must file USCIS Form I-130. You need to provide the documents above related to your case. Along with this form, payment, proof of citizenship, and proof of the sibling relationship must be submitted.
Step #2: Submit Form I-864
The sponsor must file Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, at the National Visa Center. This form is necessary because it states that the sponsor takes responsibility for financially supporting their immigrant sibling. The U.S. government aims to prevent your sibling from needing to seek government assistance.
To demonstrate this, you must provide Form I-864, which confirms that your income is at least 125% of the Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines. For siblings 21 years old and younger, refer to the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) for further information.
An immigrant visa will be issued if the National Visa Center accepts the documentation. The immigrating sibling can use this to travel to enter the United States if they are outside the U.S. They must be brought into the United States before the visa expires, or the wait time will be much longer.
Step #3: Apply for the Sibling Green Card
Once the I-130 petition is approved, the sibling can apply for a Green Card. The process of applying for a Green Card depends on their location, inside or outside the U.S.
Sibling Green Card Application Procedure If the Sibling is Inside the U.S.
If the sibling is inside the United States, they should apply through adjustment of status. Once the I-130 petition has been filed, they must wait for the immigrant visa number to become available. This wait time depends on the priority date in the visa bulletin.
To adjust their status, the sibling must file USCIS Form I-485, Adjustment of Status. Adjustment of status allows a person to apply for lawful permanent residence (Green Card) from within the U.S. without returning to their home country.
Sibling Green Card Application Procedure If the Sibling is outside the U.S.
If the sibling is outside the United States, they should apply through consular processing. They must file Form I-130 and request that USCIS notify the U.S. consulate in their home country.
Once USCIS approves the immigrant visa petition and a visa becomes available, the National Visa Center (NVC) of the State Department will send “Packet 3” to the sibling. The sibling will need to fill out the forms provided in the packet, and then, they can apply for an immigrant visa at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country.
Upon entering the United States on this immigrant visa, the sibling must surrender their visa packet to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (C.B.P.) officer at the port of entry. The C.B.P. officer will check them and assess their eligibility for admission as lawful permanent residents. If the C.B.P. officer admits them, they will obtain legal permanent resident status and can permanently live and work in the United States.
Read Also: How to Get a Green Card for Parents
What is the Cost of Obtaining a Green Card for a Sibling?
You must pay separate filing fees for each form submission to obtain a green card for siblings.
- Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130 – cost $535
- The Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, Form I-485, has different filing fees. The filing fees depend on your situation. For ages 14-78, the form fee will be $1,140 with $85 biometrics; for those above 79, there are no biometrics fees. Visit USCIS for complete fee information.
- The Affidavit of Support, Form I-864, costs $120 if you file from abroad and no cost if you live in the U.S.
You need to pay approximately $1,760 for the entire application to be processed. Apart from these costs, if you have any document to be translated or a lawyer consultation, you must pay extra.
How Long Does It Take To Get a Sibling Green Card?
The sibling green card processing time is usually lengthy due to the limits imposed by U.S. immigration laws. Sibling visas fall under the Fourth Preference category, the lowest priority for family preference categories. It is not unusual to wait even ten years for a sibling visa.
Since the U.S. Government has set a limit of 65,000 green cards in this category per year, the wait time will reach 10-14 years for most countries. You need to read the visa bulletin for the green card availability.
The sibling sponsorship U.S.A. wait time is no joke. With over 65,000 I-130 applications annually, a significant backlog has resulted in a 16-24 year waiting period. The adjudication of the I-130 Petition by USCIS typically exceeds five years. However, the Visa Bulletin schedule governs the actual receipt of the Green Card, which extends well beyond the initial 5-year processing window. In other words, act fast and apply for your sibling’s green card now to avoid further delays.
The Sibling Green Card Processing Time by Country: Why Are There So Many Delays?
The U.S. imposes a cap, restricting any single country to no more than 7% of the total Immigrant Visas (Green Cards) issued in each Residency Category annually. This leads to longer wait times for applicants from countries with high demand. Notably, due to these limits, individuals from India, China, Mexico, and the Philippines often experience extended delays in obtaining U.S. Legal Permanent Residency via sibling sponsorship. Our experts can clarify the sibling classification by USCIS and help you understand the expected wait times for your sibling’s green card case.
What to Do If Your Sibling Green Card Is Denied?
If your sibling’s green card application has been denied, you will be notified by mail as a denial notice. You can understand the reasons for rejecting the application in that denial letter. USCIS determined that your sibling is not eligible to get a green card. Sometimes, USCIS makes mistakes on the case status. Check the notice carefully and respond accordingly. You will not get the filing fee back if USCIS denies your applications.
You can appeal for the denied application. The denial letter will notify you how and when to appeal your denied application. You need to pay the fee for your appeal, which will be referred to the Board of Immigration Appeals.
The best way to appeal your denied sibling’s green card application is to consult the lawyer or immigration attorney and get the best solution.
What Are the Following-to-Join Benefits in Sibling Green Cards Cases?
When a U.S. citizen brings their siblings to the U.S., the sibling’s spouse and children are also eligible to get a green card and live in the United States. If the sibling’s spouse and children did not get permanent residence simultaneously, they are eligible for follow-to-join benefits. There is no requirement to file separate I-130 forms for spouses and children and no extra wait time. You must inform a U.S. consulate that you are a green card holder so your spouse or children can apply for an immigrant visa.
The sibling’s children must be under the age of 21 and unmarried. The eligibility for siblings’ spouse or children is:
- They must have been in the same relationship when you got your permanent residence and exits.
- You got your immigrant visa or adjusted status in a preference category.
If you meet the above conditions, submit the following:
- A completed Form I-824, Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition
- Original application or petition copy you used to apply for immigrant status
- Form I-797, Notice of Action, copy for your original petition
- Form I-551 (Green Card) copy
You can file Form I-485 and Form I-824 concurrently if you live in the U.S. and have not adjusted your status to permanent resident. You can contact the National Visa Center (NVC) for follow-to-join information if you received the overseas immigrant visa.
Start Your Petition Today to Sponsor a Sibling
To avoid the lengthy process of obtaining the sibling’s green card, apply as early as possible. ImmigrationDirect’s easy-to-use online software makes it easy for your immigration petition. And we understand the significance of receiving correct guidance to accomplish tasks promptly. Based on your current situation, you will also get customized filing instructions. We provide our services with lawyer consultation. Get started with your application today!
Green Card for Siblings Application: Frequently Asked Questions
If you still have questions regarding sibling green card application, requirements, or processing times, read the answers below or contact us for assistance!
Where do I file the green card for siblings form?
You have the option to submit Form I-130 either electronically or via postal service. To file online, you must first set up an account with USCIS’s digital platform. Should you choose to file through the postal service, your Form I-130 should be sent to a specific filing address that varies based on your state of residence, whether you are submitting from abroad, and whether you are concurrently filing Form I-130 along with Form I-485.
Can a green card holder sponsor a family member?
Lawful permanent residents are not eligible to sponsor their siblings for immigration to the United States. This privilege is reserved for individuals who have attained U.S. citizenship. Once you have completed the naturalization process and become a U.S. citizen, you can petition for your sibling. However, holding a temporary green card or lacking a certificate of citizenship disqualifies you from applying on behalf of your sibling to immigrate to the U.S.
How long does it take to petition for brothers or sisters?
Due to the lower priority assigned to these visas in the United States, the processing time for sibling green card applications can be extensively long. It is common to expect a minimum waiting period of 10 years; in some cases, the wait could extend to 25 years or longer. Therefore, it’s better to join the waiting list as soon as possible to expedite the eventual processing of your application.
Can I get a green card for a sibling if they’re already in the U.S.?
In principle, if your sibling is already in the United States when their visa priority date becomes current, they can change their status without returning to their home country. Yet, this approach carries certain risks. Should your sibling be in the U.S. without legal status, or if they are found to have committed immigration fraud—for instance, by using a visa for purposes other than those intended—they might face rejection of their green card application submitted through Form I-130.
What is the fastest way to bring a sibling to the U.S.A.?
The fastest way to bring a sibling to the U.S.A. is for a U.S. citizen to sponsor them through a family-based immigration visa (Form I-130). However, this process can be lengthy, often taking several years due to caps on the number of visas issued annually.