Bring a Sibling to the USA: Sibling Green Cards

Bring a Sibling to the USA

So you want to bring a sibling to the USA? We discuss the process and timeline for U.S. citizens to bring their brothers or sisters to live in America. Below we’ll discuss if you are eligible to petition for a brother or sister, how to do it, and how long it takes.


Can a U.S. citizen file for a brother or sister?

You may be wondering if you can bring sponsor a brother or sister to live in the United States.  Can a U.S. citizen file for a sibling? Can a green card holder petition for a brother or sister?  Do you have to be a certain age? Find out more below.

Who can file for a brother or sister to come to the USA?

Not everyone living in the U.S. legally can file for a brother or sister.  Here are the requirements for who can sponsor a sibling.  First, you have to be a U.S. citizen to sponsor a brother or sister.  In other words, a lawful permanent resident, sometimes known as a “green card holder” is not allowed to file for a brother or sister.  Second, to file for a sibling, you must be at least 21 years old.

Who is considered a “sibling” under the immigration laws?

We know that U.S. citizens at least 21 years of age can file green card petitions for their siblings.  But who counts as a sibling? Who counts as your brother or sister?

All of the following are possible under the immigration laws:

  • Bring full biological siblings to the USA.  A U.S. citizen can sponsor a full blood sibling.  This means that you can sponsor a sibling if you share both a biological mother and father.
  • Bring half-siblings to the USA.  A U.S. citizen can sponsor a half-sibling.  This means that you and your brother/sister have only one parent in common.  Note that if you petition a paternal half-sibling, you will need more proof than usual.  Paternal half-siblings have the same father but different mothers.  To sponsor your paternal half-sibling, you must show that your father was married to your mother.
  • Bring step-siblings to the USA.  A U.S. citizen can sponsor a step-sibling.  Step-siblings share no blood relation, but one sibling’s biological parents married the other’s biological parent.    For example, your father married your step-sibling’s mother.  Under the immigration laws, you are considered a step-sibling, even if neither stepparent adopted their stepchildren.  The only requirement to establish a step-sibling relationship is that either you or your step-sibling was under 18 years old when your parents married.

To review, a U.S. citizen can bring a sibling to the USA by filing a green card petition.  But to file for a sibling, you must be at least 21 years old.  Further, the definition of sibling is broad under the immigration laws.  It includes, full siblings, half siblings, and step-siblings.


What are the Steps to Bring Your Sibling to the USA?

Step 1: File an I-130 Petition with USCIS

The first step to bring your brother or sister to the America is to file the Form I-130.  This form is also known as a Petition for Alien Relative.  It’s called this because the form allows you to petition for a non-citizen, which in this case is your sibling.

So you fill out the Form I-130, and send it to USCIS, which is the immigration agency that handles I-130 petitions and other applications for immigration benefits within the United States.  If you’ve already filed the I-130, you can learn more here about how to check the status of your application.

If you have yet to file for you brother or sister, you need to know the following about completing the I-130.

First, USCIS needs to know your relationship to the person you are filing for.  Since you’re sponsoring a sibling, remember to check the box marked “brother/sister” on page 1 of the form.  In the rest of the form, you’ll need to provide the following information:

  • Your name, parents’ names, date of birth, and your immigration status
  • Your physical address and mailing address
  • Your sibling’s name, parent’s names, and date of birth
  • Contact information of you and your sibling

Besides completing the I-130, you will need to attach some evidence:

  • You need to show you are a U.S. citizen.  You can use a U.S. birth certificate, a U.S. certificate of naturalization, or a U.S. passport.
  • You need to show the person you’re sponsoring is your sibling.  You can use: Your birth certificate, your sibling’s birth certificate, and your parent’s marriage certificate.

Step 2: The Approved I-130 is Transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC)

After your I-130 is approved, it will be transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC).  The NVC is the agency that schedules interviews at the U.S. consulate where your relative lives.  But keep in mind that your brother or sister will not be immediately scheduled for an interview.  There is a wait list.  The United States places an annual cap on the number of green cards available for siblings of U.S. citizens.  So even after the NVC receives your approved I-130 petition, you may still have to wait 10 years for anything to happen.

Once the wait is over, the NVC will notify you that the case is ready for processing. If you have waited years and are unsure if the NVC has your case, you can learn how to check your NVC case status here.  Assuming there are no issues, you will receive a notification of case creation.  You get this notification when a green card is available for your brother or sister.  The NVC will then ask you to do the following:

  1. Pay fees
  2. Complete an online application
  3. Submit documents

There are many other details you can find out about the NVC process, and how to resolve NVC case delays.  Generally, once you complete the process, the NVC will schedule your brother or sister for an interview.

You can learn more on our site what happens during the interview and after the interview.

How Long Does It Take to Petition a Brother or Sister?

Wait time for brothers and sisters

What is the wait time for a U.S. citizen to sponsor a brother or sister?  Unfortunately it’s long — very long.  Below we’ll discuss the timeline for getting a green card for siblings.

To understand why it takes so long, you have to remember that the process has two steps: the I-130, and the NVC processing.  So there are two timelines involved.  The I-130 processing time for siblings can take 2 to 10 years.  The NVC processing can take an additional 2 to 15 years, depending on which country your sibling is from.  The long wait time is due to the annual cap on green cards for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, which varies based on country of origin.

Some examples

So let’s review the timeline for sponsoring a brother or sister, for some common countries:

  • If your brother or sister is from India, it could take approximately 15 years to get a green card
  • If your brother or sister is from Mexico, it would take approximately 23 years to get a green card
  • If your brother or sister is from China, it could take 15 years to get a green card
  • If your brother or sister is from the Philippines, it could take 20 years to get a green card


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