Every year, United States citizens petition to bring their siblings to the U.S. as green card (permanent residence) holders. As a Miami immigration lawyer, I have had the pleasure of helping to reunify families this way. Unfortunately, several proposed immigration bills seek to eliminate this category of visa processing. For now, however, no bill has passed eliminating the sibling visa category. So while the method is available, I would like to shed some light on some frequently asked questions.
Am I eligible to petition for a green card for my siblings?
To petition to bring your sibling (brother or sister) to live in the United States as a green card holder, you must be a U.S. citizen and at least 21 years of age. Take note – permanent residents of the U.S. may not petition to bring siblings to live permanently in the United States.
What kinds of documents do I need to submit in order to obtain a green card for my siblings?
If you are the petitioner, you will, at the very least, have to the submit the following:
- Form I-130 (completely filled out)
- A copy of your birth certificate and a copy of your sibling’s birth certificate showing that you have at least one common parent.
- Evidence that you are a U.S. citizen (U.S. passport, U.S. birth certificate, Certificate of Naturalization, etc).
Please note each case is different. Circumstances differ from person to person. As such, you should consult with a Miami immigration lawyer if you have any questions.
What else will the United States government ask for?
The United States government will naturally have concerns that your sibling will not become dependent on the state for support. As such, if you meet the initial requirements, you will have to demonstrate that your household income exceeds 125% of the poverty level in the U.S. In other words, you will have to show the U.S. government that you can support yourself and your family, as well as that of your sibling’s. You and/or your Miami immigration attorney will submit an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864). Be aware that signing this affidavit means that if your sibling does end up claiming needs-based government assistance, the affidavit allows the government to come to you for reimbursement of these amounts. You should make sure that you are ready for this undertaking before signing the affidavit of support. Again, if you have any questions, it is always best to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer for clarification.
Can my sibling come to the United States to live while the visa petition is pending?
Unfortunately, no. There is currently no avenue for your sibling to enter the United States prior to immigration on the basis of a pending Form I-130. In most instances, the beneficiary of a pending or approved immigrant visa will not be eligible for a nonimmigrant visa, although certain exceptions may apply.
What happens if my sibling is living outside of the United States?
If your sibling is living outside of the United States, then he/she will have to apply through a process called “Consular Processing.” The U.S. Department of State contacts will contact your sibling and invite her or him to apply for an immigrant visa. After your sibling submits his application for an immigrant visa, the consular office will schedule him for an interview. This process may take several months, and your relative will not receive his visa until all the steps are completed. Once your sibling receives his/her visa, he or she may travel to the U.S. Your sibling will receive his green card soon after arriving. Again, if you have any questions, you should absolutely speak with a Miami immigration attorney to discuss your options.
What happens if my sibling is living within the United States?
If your sibling is within the U.S., your sibling can adjust his/her status in the U.S. It might take several months for the relative to receive his or her green card after applying for an adjustment of status. Take note that your sibling absolutely cannot leave the United States while the application is pending. If you have any questions about this, do not guess. It is best to consult with a Miami immigration lawyer, rather than risk jeopardizing the application process.
Does my sibling have to wait for a long time to obtain his/her visa?
There is extremely high demand for visas in the family immigration category. Only 65,000 visas may be issued to brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens per year. Due to the numerical cap, there are long waiting periods to obtain a visa in this family immigration category.
Are there any benefits to waiting to file a petition for my sibling?
Unless there is a good reason to wait to file a petition for your sibling, the answer is usually no. Your brother or sister’s place in line is going to be based on the date you file your petition. Therefore, it behooves you and your sibling to file your petition as quickly as possible.
If you would like more information on obtaining a green card for your siblings, please contact Miami immigration lawyer Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305) 895-2500 or visit our website at www.mmurraylaw.com .