Petitioning for a Sibling to Become a Legal Permanent Resident

Website Provided by

United States citizens can petition to have a sibling become a legal permanent resident by following specific procedures. The citizen and the beneficiary must meet certain criteria in order for the sibling to legally enter the country.

Petitionerís Criteria

In order to petition to have a sibling become a legal permanent resident, the individual must be a United States citizen, not only a legal permanent resident. Legal permanent residents cannot petition to bring their siblings permanently in the United States. Additionally, the individual must be at least 21 years of age or older.

Required Documentation

As part of the petition to bring a sibling into the country, the United States citizen must submit specific information with the application. This includes Form I-130, the application itself. Additionally, the citizen must submit documentation that the sibling is related to the citizen, such as a birth certificate. Additionally, evidence that the United States citizen has citizenship status must be submitted. For example, this may include a copy of his or her passport, birth certificate or naturalization certificate.


If the sibling is outside the United States, he or she applies through consular processing. USCIS notifies the petitioner of a decision in the case. If the sibling is approved, he or she must wait for a visa number to become available before he or she can travel to the United States. USCIS sends the approved petition to the Department of Stateís National Visa Center until a visa number is available. According to immigration laws in place at the time of publication, a maximum of 65,000 visas can be issued to siblings of United States citizens each year. This often causes there to be waiting periods for years before a relative can obtain a visa for his or her sibling. This wait may be even longer for siblings located in certain countries because there is also a cap on the number of visas for certain countries. In some locations, this can result in having to wait for over ten years before a visa becomes available.

The National Visa Center notifies both the petitioner and the beneficiary when a visa number is about to be available and when the petitioner must pay immigrant visa processing fees. Additional supporting information will also be required.
Once a visa becomes available, the sibling attends an interview with the consular. The consular office is responsible for processing the siblingís case and deciding if he or she is eligible for an immigrant visa.

Once the sibling receives an immigrant visa, he or she will be allowed to travel to the United States. The sibling also receives a visa packet that contains important information. The sibling gives this packet to Customs and Border Protection once he or she arrives in the United States. If the immigrant is found to be admissible, he or she will become a legal permanent resident of the United States. This allows the individual the right to live and work in the United States. He or she then receives his or her green card after arriving to the United States.

If the sibling is in the United States when a visa becomes available for him or her, he or she can adjust status while in the country. However, it often takes several months for a sibling to receive a green card in this manner. Additionally, the sibling cannot leave the country while his or her application is pending.

Case Status

The USCIS website has an option to check the status of a case online. If the petition is denied, the citizen will receive notification of the denial and the reasons why it was denied. Additionally, there will be instructions regarding any applicable right to appeal the decision.


Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

Find a Lawyer

Find a Local Lawyer