Preference and Green
1. The Fourth Preference for Brothers and Sisters of U.S. Citizens
The close family members of a U.S. citizen can qualify to immigrate to the United States, but they are subject to a numerical limit of immigrant visas available to them each year. Generally, the higher the preference, the quicker the alien will be eligible to receive a Green Card. The relatives in most categories must wait for a visa to become available according to the following preferences:
First preference: Unmarried Children over 21 year of age of U.S. Citizens (23,400 per year, plus unused visas from the Fourth Preference);
Second Preference: Spouses and unmarried children (regardless of age) of U.S. permanent residents (114,200 per year, plus unused visas from the First Preference);
Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, including their spouses and their minor children. (23,400 per year, plus unused visas from the First and Second Preferences);
Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, including their spouses and their minor children. (65,000 per year, plus unused visas from the First, Second, and Third Preferences).
If an applicant does not qualify as an immediate relative, they may apply under one of the four preferences above as a relative. Since numerical caps apply to these categories, visa petitions are ranked chronologically based on a "first come, first serve basis." Also, because of the numerical cap, there are long waiting periods to obtain a visa in most of the family-based immigrant categories.
It is important for people to know what family members they might be able to bring to the United States permanently. U.S. permanent residents may sponsor neither their parents nor siblings for a Green Card. Only U.S. citizens may do this. However, even U.S. citizens may not bring siblings to the U.S. without an extended waiting period.
Parents of U.S. citizens are regarded as "immediate relatives", and they are not subject to numerical limitations. They only have to wait for the necessary paperwork processing. This includes the Form I-130 in the immediate relative category and consular processing for immigrant visa, if the parent is abroad. If the U.S. citizen's parent happens to be in the U.S., then it may be possible to file the Form I-130 and Form I-485 at the same time, and obtain permanent residence in the U.S.
The situation for siblings (brothers and sisters), however, is far different. They have to wait for years before the Priority Dates in the sibling category of family-based fourth preference become current. Immigration benefits are only available if the priority date is current. The visa dates on the Visa Bulletin of the U.S. Department of State are updated monthly, usually around the 10th of each month.
2. The Green Card Application for U.S. Citizen's Brothers and Sisters
Family-sponsored immigration has an overall quota of about half million per year, plus unused numbers from employment-based preferences. Each preference is given a numerical quota per year to limit the number of immigrants admitted into the United States.
People who want to become immigrants are divided into categories based on a preference system. The immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, which includes parents, spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21, do not have to wait for an immigrant visa number to become available once the application filed for them is approved by the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).
To apply for a Green Card for a U.S. citizen's brother or sister, a U.S. citizen must be 21 years of age. Also, to qualify as a brother or sister of a U.S. citizen, both the brother or sister and the U.S. citizen must have been children of the same parent. The annual visa allotment available for this preference is 65,000, plus any visas not used by the first three preferences.
More distant relatives, such as aunts/uncles, cousins, and grandparents cannot be sponsored for a Green Card. Even U.S. citizens cannot petition for these relatives. It may be possible to invite them for a temporary visit on a visitor's visa, depending upon whether they have sufficient ties to their respective home countries to show that they have no immigrant intent. Of course, they may also be sponsored if they are qualified and the sponsoring relative owns a business, or is able to find employment for the foreign national relative under the employment-based preference categories.
3. The Immigration Visa Application for Brothers or Sisters, and the Long Waiting Time
For a U.S. citizen with brothers or sisters in their home country, the U.S. citizen has the right to apply for immigrant visa for the brothers or sisters to come to United States to live and work, in the status of lawful permanent residence or Green Card, along with their spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21.
To apply for immigration visa for brothers or sisters, the U.S. citizen must be 21 years of age or older, and should be able to guarantee that the sibling and their family will be financially supported in the U.S. by the U.S. citizen, not require any government assistance.
U.S. citizen's brothers or sisters immigration is in the family-based fourth preference (F4) category, which is the slowest immigration category. After starting the immigration process by filing an immigration visa petition on USCIS Form I-130, the U.S. citizen's brothers or sisters will be placed on the waiting list for an immigrant visa.
The immigrant visa waiting time is very long, may be more than 10 years for some countries, such as Mexico, India, China, and Philippine. After the waiting time is over, getting the actual immigrant visa and green card can take another several months.
4. The Sibling Relationship for Immigration Petition
The sibling of U.S. citizen category enables U.S. citizens to sponsor their sister, brother, half-sister, half-brother, stepsister, stepbrother or adopted brother or sister living abroad or already residing in the United States to live and work in the U.S. on a permanent basis. If applying while the foreign sibling is in the U.S., the foreign sibling must have entered the U.S. legally and continue to maintain a lawful status. If applying while the foreign sibling is outside the United States, the foreign sibling must remain outside the U.S. until the immigrant visa is granted.
To be eligible for a Green Card as a sibling of a U.S. citizen, the applicant must be the sister, brother, half-sister, half-brother, stepsister, stepbrother or adopted brother or sister of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years of age. This must be proven through the use of the following relevant documents: birth certificates, adoption papers, marriage certificates. Applicants must meet certain health and character requirements.
As a U.S. citizen, you can petition for:
1) brother or sister, and you have the same mother;
2) brother or sister, and you have the same father BUT different mothers;
3) brother or sister, you are related through your father, and one of you was born out of wedlock and legitimated;
4) brother or sister, you are related through your father, and one of you was born out of wedlock but not legitimated;
5) stepbrother or stepsister, and you now share a common parent;
6) stepbrother or stepsister, you now share a common parent, and one of you was born out of wedlock;
7) stepbrother or stepsister, you are related through your father, and one of you was born out of wedlock but not legitimated.
The legal definition of sibling includes step-brothers and step-sisters, if you were both 18 or under when your parents married, and your parents remained married. It also includes adopted siblings, if you both were under age 16 when adopted and meet other legal conditions for a valid adoption.
Your brother or sister will not receive the right to immigrate to the U.S. immediately, your siblings may wait a long time for the right to apply for U.S. permanent residence. In many instances, depending on the country they are from, it may take 10 years.
The first step in getting permanent residence in the U.S. for your sibling is to file a visa petition on Form I-130. If your sibling is living abroad, he or she will have to wait until the I-130 is approved, and his or her “priority date” becomes current before starting the green card application.
5. Other Important Issues for Brother/Sister Relationship
If either you or your sibling were born out of wedlock (your birth parents were not married when you were born), you must provide evidence that you took the actions necessary to satisfy the legitimating law of the birth country of the person born out of wedlock while the individual was under 18 years of age and unmarried. Legitimating laws require fathers to legally acknowledge their children.
Other important issues that you need to know include:
If you and your sibling have same mother, you need to file Form I-130, with your birth certificate and your siblings birth certificate with your mother’s name on it, along with your proof for citizenship and affidavit of support.
If you and your sibling have same father but different mother, then you will have to file Form I-130 with your birth certificate with your father’s name, and your siblings birth certificate with your father’s name, a copy of divorce decree or any documents to prove your fathers previous marriage were ended.
If you are applying for a step sibling who is sharing a common father, then you will need to submit your birth certificate with the name of your father. The marriage certificates between your father to both your natural mother and your step siblings natural mother, and proof of termination of marriage to your natural mother or your siblings natural mother.
If you are applying for a step sibling and you share a common mother, then along with Form I-130 you will have to submit a copy of your birth certificate with that of name of your mother, a copy of your siblings birth certificate with that of name of your mother.
6. The Processing Time and Steps during the Family-Based Green Card Application
If you or your step sibling illegitimate and related to a common father, then you will have to submit Form I-130 with a proof that you had a bona fide parent child relationship and along with other documents.
If you are planning on acting as a green card sponsor for a family member, various factors can stretch the process into months, depending on how long it takes you to gather documents and prepare the appropriate paperwork; who you plan to sponsor; whether there is a limit on immigrant visa numbers given out in that category; and how backlogged the various USCIS offices that you will deal with are at the time.
First, you will need to fill out USCIS Form I-130, and attach your U.S. citizenship or Green Card evidence, as well as proof of your relationship to your family member. USCIS' process for the petition can take several months. Usually later, you will need to prepare an Affidavit of Support on Form I-864, together with documents proving that you are able and willing to support the immigrant at an amount that is at least 125% of the U.S. Poverty Guidelines.
In addition, your family member will need to prepare various documents as his or her own application for a green card. The exact forms and process depend on whether your relative will be adjusting status in the U.S. or going through consular processing from another country. Your relative will also need to undergo a medical exam, and get the doctor's report to submit with the green card application. At every step of the way, you will be dealing with a government agency that is backlogged with other applicants. The typical processing steps you may encounter include:
- waiting a receipt notice after submitting Form I-130;
- if your relative will be coming from abroad and going to consular processing, awaiting transfer of the case to a U.S. consulate and correspondence from the National Visa Center;
- if your relative is in the U.S. and will be adjusting status inside U.S, awaiting a receipt notice and then a fingerprinting appointment waiting for the FBI to process your relative's fingerprints;
- waiting an interview with the U.S. consulate or USCIS office.
More Articles of Immigration Application for U.S. Citizen's Brother or Sister • Immigration Application Process for a U.S. Citizen's Brother or Sister • Immigrant Visa Number for a U.S. Citizen's Brothers and Sisters Immigration • Immigrant Visa Application and Form I-485 Adjustment of Status • Frequently Asked Questions for U.S. Citizen's Brothers or Sisters' Immigration • Our Help Desk's Answers/Questions for U.S. Citizen's Brother or Sister Immigration • Do-It-Yourself Package of Green Card Application for U.S. Citizen's Brother or Sister • Immigration Application for U.S. Citizen's Brother or Sister • Home Page
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