Family-Based Petition via Sibling

Route

Immigrant Visas

Description

Only a U.S. citizen may be eligible to file a petition on behalf of a Migrant sibling residing in the United States or abroad. Currently, there is a significant wait time for a visa to become available to permit the Migrant sibling and any qualifying derivative to obtain legal status in the United States. A petition filed on behalf of a sibling falls under the fourth (4th) family-sponsored preference class of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allotting visas to brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens. Unfortunately, Migrant siblings may experience a prolonged wait time, over a decade, prior to a visa becoming available as there are only a limited number of green cards issued per year. Certain countries that adhere to a visa cap, the wait time may be longer.

A family-based petition is composed of a multi-step process and immigration paths may vary depending on important factors related to the Migrant sibling’s visa availability, current residence location, method of entry into the United States, prior immigration and/or criminal history. Regardless of the immigration path that Petitioner and Migrant sibling may follow, the filing of an initial petition is a necessary step to initiate an immigration case with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Immigration recognizes a “sibling” as a biological brother/sister, stepsibling and/or adopted sibling as long as at least one common parent is shared. In the circumstances where the U.S. citizen is interested in sponsoring a Migrant adoptive and/or stepsibling, certain requirements must have been met in order to meet eligibility. If relationship is stablished through adoption, the Migrant sibling must have been adopted prior to reaching 16 years of age. If relationship as stepsibling is established via marriage of parents, the legal marriage must have occurred prior to the Migrant sibling reaching 18 years of age.  It is important to ensure eligibility to avoid further delays and/or jeopardize years of wait time for an adjudication.

To initiate the process, the U.S. citizen will be required to submit the petition to USCIS along all other supporting documentation regardless of the Migrant sibling residing in the United States or abroad. The initial documentation submitted must verify the direct relationship between U.S. citizen and Migrant sibling, either biologically or via adoption and marriages to stepparents. Once USCIS processes the petition, a receipt notice will be mailed to the U.S. citizen’s address of record. It is very important to safely retain record of this notice as it includes important information regarding receipt number, priority date, and class request. Post-petition approval, USCIS will transfer the case to the Department of State National Visa Center (NVC) Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) for further processing. Although an account registration may be possible, no further action may be required for a prolonged period of time unless a visa becomes available.

At the present moment, if the Migrant sibling resides abroad and a visa becomes available, post-petition approval, the case may continue processing with NVC. Additional forms and documentation filings may be required in order for an interview to be scheduled at a U.S. embassy or consular office abroad. A straightforward process can be anticipated if the Migrant sibling does not have any unfavorable factors that may potentially impact a petition approval. The Migrant sibling will be required to obtain a medical examination and attend a consular processing interview to finalize this multi-step process. Upon case approval and return of a sealed passport containing a valid visa, the Migrant sibling will be able to travel to the United States under an immigrant visa. An inspection by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at a port of entry will establish a legal entry and lawful permanent status in the United States.  As the immigration law and procedures continue to evolve, the Migrant sibling may experience additional requirements and/or procedures over time and the petition reaches the consular process phase.

At the present moment, if the Migrant sibling is legally in the United States and a visa becomes available, the Migrant sibling may be eligible to file for adjustment of status in the United States with USCIS. The process will facilitate the Migrant siblings’ ability to obtain a work authorization document (EAD) while the processing of a green card is pending. On the contrary that the Migrant sibling is currently in the United States without any legal status,

In the situation where the Migrant sibling remained in the United States post entries without legal inspection, consular processing at a U.S. embassy or consular office abroad may be the most viable option once a visa becomes available. However, additional services may be required that include the filing of a Waiver(s) and/or motion(s) with an immigration court. It is recommended that the Migrant sibling be guided and/or supported by a licensed attorney and/or an accredited legal representative prior to any action taken at a consular process level.

If a waiver is recommended, the Migrant sibling may require a qualifying family relative such as a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse and/or parents to be eligible. With legal representation, the Migrant sibling will be able to verify qualification for a waiver to be able to secure departure from the United States and be able to attend an interview abroad for further processing. Upon approval of an immigrant visa, the Migrant sibling will be able to re-enter the United States under lawful permanent residence and obtain a green card.

Benefits

The filing or the approval of the petition does not grant the Migrant sibling legal status or an immediate immigration benefit in the United States. However, once the Migrant sibling successfully navigates through the multi-step process (over the course of a decade) and obtains approval of an immigrant visa at U.S. embassy or consular office abroad, the Migrant sibling is able to obtain lawful permanent status.

Green cards are produced upon inspection at a port of entry and legal entry to the United States. Green cards are mailed to the address of preference detailed on Form, DS-260, Immigrant Visa Electronic Application. In the past, a social security number was also generated and automatically mailed to the client. In most recent cases, the Migrant sibling may be required to request a social security independently at a local Social Security Office.

Derivative Dependents

A U.S. citizen may file a family-based petition on behalf of a Migrant sibling and include the Migrant sibling’s unmarried sons and daughters. The sons and daughters will be listed as part of the petition as dependents. However, at the time the Migrant sibling consular processes and is granted the lawful permanent resident, the unmarried sons and daughters cannot have reached 21 years of age. Unfortunately, due to the prolonged wait time of a visa becoming available, a majority of dependents may age out and/or impact their marital status.

Process Description

A family-based petition is a multi-step process that involves agencies like the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Department of State National Visa Center (NVC), U.S. embassy or consular office abroad as well as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). A petition filed with USCIS by a U.S. citizen on behalf of a Migrant sibling, may be processed and approved within 12-24 months. (Please note that at this time, times may vary significantly due to the ongoing pandemic impact). Post-petition approval requires a significant wait time. The lack of visa availability will halt the petition process for at least a decade.

Unfavorable Circumstances

For some individuals, immigration is a complex process to navigate through due to the strict requirements and interpretation of the law. A Migrant sibling’s criminal history and/or previous immigration history related to illegal entries, prior deportations, and/or previous immigration benefit denials, may negatively impact a petition. Although, some factors may not necessarily cause the denial of a petition, it is best to consult with a licensed attorney and/or an accredited legal representative to confirm eligibility and to establish best course of action. A legal attorney may be able to assess the Migrant sibling’s circumstances accordingly to the law, immigration bars, and restrictions. Additionally, over the course of a decade, significant changes may apply to the immigration law and/or procedures.

Relevant Links List

Name Description Website
DoS Visa Bulletin Board This website contains details regarding the U.S. Department of State (DoS) visa availability based on relief categories. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin.html
USCIS Processing Times Website contains details regarding immigration cases processing times. https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/

Citations

Family-based petitions on behalf of a Migrant sibling are processed and adjudicated under strict eligibility to verify relationship. Certain relevant laws and regulations are specified under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and/or U.S. Code. Some of the applicable law and regulations include:

Citations List

Citations Description Section Title
8 CFR § 204.2 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) establishes regulations imposed by the Federal Government of the United States. Petitions for Relatives, Widows and Widowers, and Abused Spouses and Children
INA § 212 Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is a federal law that establishes immigration, naturalization, and exclusion of aliens. General Classes of Aliens Ineligible to Receive Visas and Ineligible for Admission; Waivers of Inadmissibility
INA § 201 Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is a federal law that establishes immigration, naturalization, and exclusion of aliens. Worldwide Level of Immigration
INA § 203 Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is a federal law that establishes immigration, naturalization, and exclusion of aliens. Allocation of Immigrant Visas

Forms

Related Forms List

Name Description No. Fee
Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA On a case-by-case scenario, an Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA may be required for filing with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and/or the Department of State National Visa Center (NVC). I-864 $0
Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member On a case-by-case scenario, a Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member may be required if Sponsor does not meet the financial requirements on his own. A household member's financials may be considered if residing at the same domicile of the Sponsor and holds legal status for employment. I-864A $0
Immigrant Visa Electronic Application An Immigrant Visa Electronic Application is required for online submission by the Department of State National Visa Center (NVC). The form DS-260 is only accessible via the Consular Electronic Center - Immigrant/Diversity Visa portal. DS-260 $0
Petition for Alien Relative A Petition for Alien Relative form should be filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the purpose of petitioning on behalf of a qualifying immediate family member. I-130 $535
Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record A medical examination form is to be completed by the Migrant Spouse and the authorized civil surgeon to establish admissibility under health grounds. I-693 $0

Supporting Documents

For an initial filing of a family-based petition on behalf of a sibling, supporting documentation will be required to establish relationship and identity. Some of the supporting documentation may include:

Supporting Documents List

Name Description
Passport-Style Photographs Passport-styles photographs must comply with USCIS' requirements related to sizing, position, and color.
Personal Documentation Personal documentation must be submitted to verify the Sponsor's and Migrant's identity. Personal documentation includes birth certificates, passport biographical pages, identification IDs. All documentation must be in compliance with the U.S. Department of State - Bureau of Consular Affairs which requirements vary by country.
Personal Documentation of Minor Children
Proof of Bona Fide Relationship
Proof of Legal Adoption
Proof of Parents' Marriages
U.S. Legal Status Verification Proof of legal status is required to ensure Sponsor's eligibility. Sponsor may provide a valid U.S. passport, U.S. birth certificate and/or a U.S. naturalization certificate.