If your sibling is a U.S. citizen who is 21 years or older, they can sponsor a lawful permanent resident application for you if you are a citizen of a foreign country. The process for getting a sibling card is usually long. However, it is still possible for your siblings to join you in the United States. This article explains the sibling green card application process, the eligibility requirements, how much it costs, and why it takes so long for siblings to get green cards.
What are the eligibility requirements for a sibling green card?
Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens can apply for green cards based on their familial relationship. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), these categories of individuals count as "siblings."
- Brothers and sisters with the same birth parents
- Half siblings related through a step-parent
- Stepbrothers or stepsisters
- Adopted siblings
The sponsor of this type of family-based green card must be a U.S. citizen who’s at least 21 years of age. You’ll also have to show supporting documents such as parental divorce, adoption, or marriage certificates to prove your family relationship with your U.S. citizen sibling. Your American sibling will also need to provide proof of citizenship or naturalization.
How much does it cost to get a sibling green card?
There are separate filing fees for each form you must submit for a sibling green card application. Form I-130, "Petition for Alien Relative," costs $535. Form I-485, "Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status," has different filing fees depending on your situation. For most people ages 14 to 78, the form fee is $1,140, and the biometric services fee is $85, totaling $1,225. Form I-864, "Affidavit of Support," has no filing fee if you live in the United States, and costs $120 if you live abroad.
The entire process will likely cost around $1,760. However, this does not account for the cost of representation by an immigration lawyer or law firm, document translations, or other charges.
What is the application process for a sibling green card?
There are two primary components of the application process. First, the sponsoring U.S. citizen sibling must file Form I-130. When U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves this form, they will provide a "priority date." When this date is current, you can submit your green card application and complete the rest of the family-based green card application process.
Step 1: File Form I-130 petition
The first step of the process is to file Form I-130. Your sponsoring sibling will submit this form along with fee payment, proof of U.S. citizenship, and proof of your sibling relationship.
To prove you are siblings, usually, you will have to provide copies of both of your birth certificates and show at least one parent in common. If either sibling has had a name change, you will need a document that proves it. If your documents are not in English, you will need to provide a certified translation.
If you and your sibling are related through one parent, you will need further documentation that you are family members. For example, suppose you and your sibling share a father. In that case, you will need to show evidence of his marriage to your mother and proof of his marriage to your sibling's mother. You will also need to show proof of the marriage ending legally, such as a divorce decree or death certificate.
If your parents were never married, you would have to provide evidence of a financial or emotional relationship with the shared parent at some point before 21 years of age.
Step 2: Submit green card application
The process of submitting a green card application will depend on whether you are located inside the United States or outside, within your home country.
If you are within the United States, you will apply via adjustment of status. After your sibling files Form I-130, you will need to wait for an immigrant visa number to become available for you. This wait depends on your "priority date," which you can track through the State Department's Visa Bulletin. Then, you can apply to adjust status using Form I-485. During your wait time, you need to maintain legal nonimmigrant status. Otherwise, you may face deportation.
You will apply via consular processing if you are outside of the United States. When your sibling files Form I-130, they request USCIS to notify the U.S. consulate in your country. After USCIS approves your immigrant visa petition and a visa becomes available, the State Department’s National Visa Center (NVC) will send "Packet 3" to your sibling. When your sibling completes the forms, you will go to the U.S. embassy or consulate to apply for an immigrant visa. After you enter the United States on this immigrant visa, you will become a permanent resident and green cardholder.
How long does it take to get a sibling green card?
Unfortunately, getting a sibling green card takes quite a long time. U.S. immigration laws create limits on the number of total green cards in specific categories. Sibling visas within the "Fourth Preference" category are the lowest priority for family preference categories. Only spouses, unmarried children, or parents count as immediate relatives.
Because many people have already applied under this category, the processing time is extremely long. It takes at least ten years for people of most countries. There is also a limit per country, so applicants from certain countries, including Mexico, India, and the Philippines, will face an even longer wait lasting up to 25 years.
Getting a sibling green card can be complicated, but working with a good immigration attorney can make it easier. If you can't afford the attorney fees and don't want to handle your green card case alone, we may be able to help. If you are eligible, our free web app will walk you through the process and help you prepare and file your application with the U.S. government. Click "Get Started" to see how we can help make your American dream come true!