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Reuniting with Family: A Guide to Sponsoring Your Sibling for a Green Card

There’s nothing so special as a family bond, and the bond between siblings is especially precious. Our siblings keep us company, protect us, laugh with us (sometimes at us), and help us through the hard times. Being separated from our siblings is already painful, and being separated in different countries may be unbearable. If you’re separated and missing a sibling, you’re probably wondering, “How can I bring my brother to the USA to visit?” However, the better question to ask is, “Can I petition my brother for an immigrant visa?” 

Luckily, for U.S. citizens, there are options you can utilize to sponsor your siblings with a sibling petition and help them get a U.S. green card. 

How can siblings sponsor green cards? The answer is family-based immigration. Family-based immigration is a crucial aspect of the immigration process in the United States, and it’s currently the most common, legal way to immigrate. Family-based immigration involves proving to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that you have a valid, familial claim on another person that they can use to immigrate. 

At this point in time, only U.S. citizens (not green card holders or lawful permanent residents) can file a sibling petition. If you are interested in pursuing family-based immigration and submitting a sibling petition, follow these steps – or better yet, reach out to a team of family immigration experts to ensure this process goes as smoothly as possible and be a US citizen sponsor sibling. 

What Is a Sibling Petition?

A sibling petition is a process that establishes a legitimate familial relationship with a foreign citizen sibling who wants to immigrate to the United States. The U.S. government uses sibling petitions to prove that the sibling in question is related to you and eligible for a green card. 

The Importance of Family Immigration

Family-based immigration is a crucial aspect of the United States’ immigration process. If you are a foreign citizen who wishes to live permanently in the United States, you need an immigrant visa. One of the most common ways this visa is sought is through family-based immigration options. You might have a few questions about family-based immigration. Let’s address the basics together: 

Can a U.S. citizen sponsor a family member? 

Yes. a US citizen can file a family-based immigration petition for spouse, son or daughter, parent, or sibling. U.S. permanent residents can only file for spouses or an unmarried son or daughter. 

Can U.S. citizens sponsor siblings (or can you sponsor your siblings to the USA)?

Yes! If you’re asking, “Can an American citizen sponsor a sibling?” The answer is that a US citizen petition for siblings is valid. 

Can I sponsor my cousin to the USA?

No, unfortunately you cannot. 

Can I sponsor my brother to the USA? What about my sister? 

Yes, you can – as long as you are a U.S. citizen.

Can I sponsor my sister for a green card? How about my brother?

Absolutely! Again, you must be a U.S. citizen to do so. 

Can green card holders sponsor siblings?

No, only a U.S. citizen can sponsor siblings at this time. 

Eligibility Requirements for a Petition for Sibling

When sponsoring a green card for a family member, there are several eligibility requirements you need to be aware of before filing a petition for your sibling. You can also find all of these restrictions and requirements on the USCIS website.

Eligibility Requirements for the Petitioning Sibling:

  • You must be at least 21 years old. 
  • You must live in the United States and be a United States citizen. 
  • You must be able to prove you can financially support your sibling once they enter the United States. 
  • You must be able to prove, usually with birth certificates, that you and your sibling share at least one biological parent (if you are blood-related). 
  • If you and your sibling are related via adoption, you need documentation proving that the adoption took place before you or your adopted sibling turned 16.
  • If you and your sibling are step-siblings, you need proof that prior marriage(s) of the natural parent and/or step-parent were legally terminated and a copy of the marriage certificate of the step-parent to the biological parent.
  • If you and your sibling only share one biological parent, you need marriage certificates of your shared parent to both individual parents and documents showing that any of the parents’ former marriages were legally terminated. 

Your sibling must not have any disqualifying factors, such as certain health conditions, a criminal record, or a history of fraud/misrepresentation. 

Green Card Holder Limitations

You’re probably wondering: Can a green card holder sponsor siblings and file a U.S. citizenship petition for siblings? At this point in time, unfortunately, the answer is no. You must be a U.S. citizen to file a U.S. citizen petition for siblings. 

Although this may be disheartening, there are other routes you and your siblings can take if you’re hoping to reunite in the United States. You can always consider becoming a U.S. citizen yourself, which would make you eligible to file, as you would then be a U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister. Alternatively, your sibling could seek something like an employment-based visa. These are both viable options your family can consider. 

The Process of Filing a Sibling Petition

Filing Form I-130

Immigration and citizenship paperwork can be frustrating. It’s important to submit correct information and have access to all of your supporting documents. If you follow these directions, you will be filing your Form I 130 for siblings in no time – but also, the right choice could be seeking outside help from trained immigration professionals.

Step One: Finding Form I-130

Locate the I-130 form on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services webpage here

Step Two: Providing Required Information for I-130 Form

To complete the I-130 form for your sibling, you will need to have a lot of information and documentation at your disposal. USCIS needs correct information for your sibling to receive a visa.

For a U.S. citizen, the petition for a sibling require:

  • Evidence of U.S. citizenship, lawful permanent residence, or U.S. national status. This can include:some text
    • A copy of your birth certificate
    • A copy of your citizenship or naturalization certificate
    • A copy of form FS-240 (Consular Birth Abroad) (if applicable)
    • A copy of your U.S. passport
  • Evidence of a family relationship with your sibling (such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, or adoption certificates). 

Step Three: Filing Instructions and Associated Fees for Form I-130

There are two ways to file Form 1-130: online or by mail/paper. The benefits of filing online are that you can easily check your case status, upload evidence, and receive case alerts. It is also less expensive than filing by mail.

To file online:

  • First, create an account on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services webpage. Follow these steps for more information about account creation. 
  • Fill out the form with an attention to detail. If you find the process difficult, seek out an immigration consultant
  • Submit your petition with the filing fee and any scanned copies of supporting documents. 
  • As of April 2024, it costs $625 to file online. 

To file by mail:

  • Print your I-130 Form and complete it carefully and correctly. 
  • Find the correct outgoing address here
  • Depending on which state you live in and whether or not your relative is filing Form I-485 as well, USCIS will require you to send to either the Dallas, Chicago, or Phoenix Lockbox. 
  • As of April 2024, it costs $675 to file your family petition by mail. 

After Form I-130 is Filed

Step One: Consular Processing

Once the I-130 form is approved, your sibling will eventually receive a visa number and file a visa application with the National Visa Center (NVC)

Every month, the US Department of State publishes a Visa Bulletin. This will give instructions on what visas are being processed and how your sibling can move forward with their green card.

Step Two: Form DS-260

USCIS will send the documents to the National Visa Center after approving Form I-130. NVC will send you the necessary information to complete Form DS-260: Online portal to answer a questionnaire and upload required documentation. There is no fee, and it can take up to three weeks to process.

Afterward, file Form DS-260: Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration. This is the primary immigrant visa application. It costs $325. You will also have to pay a $120 Affidavit of Support filing fee. This form proves you can support your sibling financially.

Then, you can check the status of your application online.

Step Three: Medical Examination

Your sibling will undergo a medical examination. A US Department of State-approved doctor must perform the medical exam. This exam usually costs $200. Your sibling will receive a sealed envelope from the doctor with your results and vaccination record. They will bring this to their visa interview. 

Your sibling will also have to attend a fingerprinting appointment at a visa application support center. USCIS will send a passport after they put a US visa stamp in it. 

Step Four: Green Card Interview

Your sibling will attend a green card interview with the NVC. They will need to bring their medical exam results, application forms, and any required documents. (Note that USCIS is sometimes waiving these interviews now.)

Afterwards, if your sibling petition is approved, USCIS will send them a visa to travel to the United States. They will pay a $220 fee online to cover printing and mailing their green card. Approximately two to three weeks after your arrival in the United States, your sibling will receive their green card in the mail and have a permanent residence card. 

Sibling Petition FAQs

How long does it take to petition a sibling for a green card? 

If you are a U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister and want to know the processing time for a sibling visa USA, look no further. This window can vary greatly. Approval from USCIS for the Form I-130 can take approximately 2-3 years. After the petition is approved, you will need to wait for a visa number to become available from the National Visa Center. This can take anywhere from 10-15 years.

This is why it’s best to get started as soon as possible and utilize a family immigration expert to ensure your sibling’s path to a green card is as smooth as possible. There isn’t necessarily a difference in the country your foreign citizen sibling belongs to, so if you’re wondering, “How long to petition siblings from the Philippines?” for example, the likelihood is that it may not matter where but just what USCIS and NVC can handle per year.

What documents are required for the petition? 

There are a few documents required when submitting the petition. Make sure you have access to:

  • Proof that you are a U.S. citizen.
  • Proof that you and your siblings are related either biologically, by your parents’ marriage, or adoption. Depending on your situation, you will need copies of birth certificates, marriage certificates, adoption certificates, and/or proof of your parents’ former marriages legal terminations.
  • Payment for fees. As of April 1st, 2024, it will cost $675.

What happens if my sibling is already married? 

One of the most common questions asked when sponsoring a sibling is: Can I sponsor my sister or brother for a green card if they’re already married? The good news is that you absolutely can! Your sibling can bring along “derivative” family members if their petition is approved. This means that their spouse and any minor children can join your sibling in the United States without having to file a separate Form I-130. This does not extend to aunts, uncles, cousins, or any others, but if you’re wondering, “Can I petition my married sister?” – the answer is yes.

Get Expert Assistance to Achieve Sibling Petition Success

Why take any chances when attempting to petition for a sibling successfully? This process is long, can be complicated, and requires a great attention to detail. Almost everyone undergoing this process can benefit from seeking outside assistance and hiring a team of qualified, capable, and empathetic professionals who are well versed in immigration practices to help them and make this process as easy to manage and successful as possible. 

If you are looking to sponsor a sibling to immigrate to the United States, you can find no better help than Consulta Immigration. Contact Consulta Immigration today to start the brother/sister filing process and be one step closer to reuniting with your sibling. 

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