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The Immigration Application Process for a U.S. Citizen's Brother or Sister

1. How Could I Sponsor My Brother or Sister for a U.S. Green Card?

The family-based immigration provides foreign siblings (brothers or sisters) with the opportunity to reunite with family members living in the United States, and become U.S. Permanent Residents. In addition, the spouse and children under 21 years of age of the foreign sibling may accompany the foreign sibling, and apply for permanent residence as well. U.S. Permanent Residents have the right to live and work in the United States permanently, leave and return to the United States with few limitations, attend public schools and colleges, and become a U.S. citizen later.

You can make use of the family-based immigration process to apply a Green Card for your brother or sister. If you are a U.S. citizen, you should be above 21 years of old to petition a Green Card for your sister or brother. Through the family-based Green Card process, once your sister or brother enters the United States, they are eligible to work permanently and later apply for U.S. citizenship. But you cannot apply for a Green Card for your sister or brother through family-based Green Card process, if you are just a U.S. Green Card holder. 

The family-based Green Card process is a multi-step process. First your need to file an immigration petition using Form I-130 with USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). After USCIS approves the Form I-130, an immigrant visa number should be available. Once the immigrant visa is available, they will be notified to go and schedule an interview in their local U.S. consulate. If your brother or sister is already in the U.S. on a different visa, you can file I-130 first, and once the immigrant visa number becomes available, your brother or sister can apply for adjustment of status in the United States. 

Along with Form I-130, you will need to file Form I-864 Affidavit of Support to establish that you have enough income to support your siblings. You will have to submit the supporting document along with Form I-130 to establish your relationship, and each supporting document varies based on your situation.

If the immigrant visa petition (Form I-130) 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 that are available each year is limited, your brother or sister may not get an immigrant visa number immediately after the immigrant visa petition is approved. 

In some cases, several years could pass between the time USCIS approves the immigrant visa petition and the U.S. Department of State provides an immigrant visa number. Because U.S. law also limits the number of immigrant visas available for each country, your brother or sister may have to wait longer, if they come from a country with a high demand for U.S. immigrant visas. 

2. The Immigration Process for a U.S. Citizen's Sibling

An immigrant (also called a "lawful permanent resident" and Green Card holder) is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of living and working permanently in the United States. Your sibling must go through a multi-step process to become an immigrant. 

A sibling is a brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or adopted brother or sister. For the necessary sibling relationship to exist, each person must have been a child of at least one of the same parents. The siblings need not share the same biological parents as long as both became “children” at the appropriate time - before the age of 16 in cases of adoption, and before the age of 18 for stepchildren.

A legal immigrant is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of living and working permanently in the United States. There is a three-step process for your brother or sister to become a legal immigrant:

  • The USCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition that you filed for your brother or sister.

  • The State Department visa bulletin must show that a sibling immigrant visa is available to your sibling, based on the date that you filed the immigrant visa application. 

  • If your brother or sister is outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, your brother or sister will be notified to go to the local U.S. consulate to complete the processing for an immigrant visa. If your sibling is legally inside the U.S. when an immigrant visa number becomes available, he or she may apply to adjust status to that of a lawful permanent resident using the Form I-485. 

Depending on the relationship and the country involved, the wait for an available sibling visa number may be several years. You may refer to the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for current priority dates.

3. The Two Scenarios for Brothers and Sisters of U.S. Citizens to Apply for Immigration

To apply for a Green Card for brother or sister, a U.S. citizen must be 21 years of age. If you are a lawful permanent resident, you are not eligible to apply to bring your brother or sister to live and work permanently in the United States. A lawful permanent resident is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of living and working permanently in the United States. 

There are two scenarios for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens to apply for immigration to U.S.:

1) The alien brother or sister is already in the United States: the first scenario is that the alien brother or sister is already in the United States in a nonimmigrant status or parole. In this case, the U.S. citizen may file an Form I-130 immigration petition to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the brother or sister first. 

The brother or sister has to wait for the immigrant visa number to become current before he or she may apply to adjust to permanent resident. During this waiting period, the brother or sister needs to independently maintain a valid nonimmigrant status. If the petition for a brother or sister has been approved, and the brother or sister is currently in the United States through a lawful admission or parole, he or her may file a Form I-485 - Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status.

2) The alien brother or sister is outside the United States: The second scenario is that the brother or sister is outside the United States. In this case, the U.S. citizen needs to file Form I-130 petition to USCIS, and the USCIS will notify a U.S. Consulate in the country where the brother or sister lives. 

Once the immigration petition is approved and an immigrant visa is available, the National Visa Center of the U.S. State Department will send a forms and information package to the U.S. citizen. After the necessary forms are completed, the brother or sister goes to the U.S. Consulate overseas to apply for an immigrant visa. On the day that the brother or sister enters the United States on an immigrant visa, he or she becomes a U.S. permanent resident. 

 


 


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