If you are a U.S. citizen you can sponsor your brother or sister for a green card (permanent residence). You need to be 21 years of age or older to sponsor your siblings. Your sibling’s spouse and unmarried children below the age of 21 can also be included in the petition. Permanent residents cannot sponsor their siblings for green cards.
Getting a green card for your sibling falls under the family-based immigration process. Family members of U.S. citizens and green card holders are eligible to get a green card. There are two categories of family visas – immediate relative immigrant visas (IR) and family preference immigrant visas (F). There are an unlimited number of IR visas and persons in this category do not have to wait for a visa to become available.
There are yearly limits on the F category visas which are arranged by preference. So an applicant in this category must wait for a visa number to become available before filing an application for a green card.
Sibling Green Card
Sibling green cards are available through the Family Fourth Preference (F4) category. Visas are available to brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens and their spouses and minor children. There are 65,000 F4 visas available each year.
To qualify as a sibling of a U.S. citizen, both of you need to share at least one parent in common. As a U.S. citizen, you can also sponsor adopted siblings, siblings through step-parents, and paternal half-siblings.
Application Process for Green Card for Siblings
You need to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with the USCIS. The purpose of the petition is to prove your relationship. You need not file separate forms for your sibling’s spouse and unmarried children below the age of 21.
Along with the form you need to include the following supporting documents:
- Your birth certificate
- Your sibling’s birth certificate
- Proof of your U.S. citizenship
If your sibling is related to you through adoption you need to include:
- Evidence that the adoption took place before you or your adopted sibling became 16 years old.
If your sibling is related to you through a step-parent, you need to include:
- Evidence to show that any prior marriage(s) of the natural parent and/or the step-parent was legally terminated, and
- Copy of the marriage certificate of the natural parent and the step-parent.
If your sibling is a paternal half-sibling (you share a biological father but have different mothers), you need to include:
- Copies of marriage certificates of the father to each mother, and
- Evidence to show that any prior marriage of your father or the mothers was legally terminated.
Once the I-130 petition is accepted, your sibling can apply for a green card but will have to wait for a visa number to become available. Because sibling visas are the lowest priority visa of the family preference category, it often takes several years for a visa number to become available.
If your sibling is outside the U.S., which is most likely, he or she should go through consular processing. They will have to apply for an immigrant visa at the U.S. Embassy or consulate in their country and then appear for an interview. If everything goes well, your sibling will be given an immigrant visa which allows them to travel to the U.S. If the immigration officer at the port of entry approves their visa, your sibling can enter the U.S. as a permanent resident (green card holder).
If your sibling is in the U.S. on a valid nonimmigrant visa when the petition is approved, he or she will have to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
After your I-485 is approved, your sibling’s status will be adjusted to permanent resident status.
Green cards for siblings fall in the last family-based preference category and hence have the longest processing time. The number of visas in this category is 65,000 per year plus anything that may not have been used in the first three preference categories.
The average processing time is approximately 10 years and may take more or less time depending on the country of your sibling. Some countries, like Mexico, India, and the Philippines, have longer processing times.