Definition of a Sibling
A sibling is a brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or adopted brother or sister. For the necessary sibling relationship to exist, each person must have been a child of at least one of the same parents. The siblings need not share the same biological parents as long as both became “children” at the appropriate time (before the age of 16 in cases of adoption, and before the age of 18 for stepchildren).
Overview of the Immigration Process
A legal immigrant (or “lawful permanent resident”) is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of living and working permanently in the United States. There is a three-step process for your brother or sister to become a legal immigrant:
1. The USCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition that you file for your brother or sister.
2. The State Department visa bulletin must show that a sibling immigrant visa is available to your sibling, based on the date that you filed the immigrant visa application.
3. If your brother or sister is outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, your brother or sister will be notified to go to the local U.S. consulate to complete the processing for an immigrant visa. If your sibling is legally inside the U.S. when an immigrant visa number becomes available, he or she may apply to adjust status to that of a lawful permanent resident using the Form I-485.
Depending on the relationship and the country involved, the wait for an available sibling visa number may be several years. You may refer to the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for current priority dates.
How Long does the process take?
The sibling petition process is one of the most frustrating and time-consuming processes in immigration. At the present time it is taking more than 10 years to bring a sibling to the U.S. This is due to the limited number of visas available each year for these types of petitions.
What Does the Law Say?
The Immigration and Nationality Act is a law that governs the admission of all immigrants to the United States. For the part of the law concerning immigrant visas for siblings, please see INA § 203 and INA § 204. The specific eligibility requirements and procedures for applying for immigrant visas and permanent residence are included in the Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] at 8 CFR § 204.1, 8 CFR § 204.2 and 8 CFR § 245.
Who is Eligible to Sponsor a Sibling?
If you are a U.S. citizen and at least 21 years old, you are eligible to petition to bring your brother or sister to live and work permanently in the United States. If you are a lawful permanent resident, you are not eligible to apply to bring your brother or sister to live and work permanently in the United States.