Processing Time for U.S. Citizen Filing for a Brother or Sister

U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sisterIf you are a U.S. citizen who has siblings who are immigrants to the United States, you may be wondering how you can help them acquire a green card. The process can be quite extensive and depending on the specifics of your case, it may take many years before permanent residency is established. There are a number of requirements that the foreign sibling must meet before he or she can obtain a green card, starting with the submission of Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

What Is Form I-130 and What Are the Requirements?

Form I-130 is used to establish a valid family relationship between a U.S. citizen and a family member that is seeking a green card. Green card holders cannot apply for their siblings.

The first step of the family-based green card process is filling out and submitting the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The U.S. citizen, who is also known as the “Petitioner”, is responsible for filing the petition for their sibling. The sibling is known as the “Beneficiary.” When submitting Form I-130, there is a government filing fee of $535. You will need to send in this money, as well as any other documents requested. These documents typically include:

  • Proof that the petitioner is a U.S. citizen
  • Proof that the family relationship is valid
  • Proof of nationality for the beneficiary
  • Proof of name changes for the petitioner and/or beneficiary, if any

a man signing a form I-130Once USCIS receives the Form I-130, a “priority date” is given to the petition. The priority date is the date in which USCIS receives the I-130 petition. For example, if USCIS received your Form I-130 on January 1, 2010, then your priority date is January 1, 2010.

A person’s place in line is determined by their “priority date” unless the person is the spouse, parent, or an unmarried child (under age 21) of a U.S. citizen.

What Is the Average Processing Time for a I-130 Petition?

The processing time for a U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister can take a significant amount of time. The waiting time starts when you send off the completed petition and filing fee in the mail. About two to three weeks after filing, USCIS will respond to your request by mailing a receipt that confirms that they received the application. This receipt is known formally as Form I-797C, Notice of Action.

a US permanent resident green cardOnce you receive the receipt, USCIS will begin reviewing your petition. How long you wait after this point will depend on the family preference category that you fall into. Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens fall into preference category F4. Those in preference category F4 generally have a lengthy wait before they are able to immigrate to the U.S., sometimes as long as 10 years or more. If the foreign-born sibling lives abroad, the sibling will have to wait until the Form I-130 is approved and the priority date becomes current before they can apply for a green card. Currently, there is an annual quota of 65,000 category four visas with an estimated wait time of approximately 14 years. The wait time can be tracked through the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Bulletin, which can be found here:

Learn More About Sibling-Related U.S. Citizen Filing

If you have foreign siblings that live abroad, you may be wondering how you can help them immigrate to the United States. While the process is fairly straightforward, there are some hurdles that you may have to jump through before your sibling can join you in the U.S. The processing and wait time can be quite long, sometimes even more than a decade, which can be frustrating. Knowing what to expect and having the proper legal guidance can help ensure that you remain on the right track. For more information about the processing time for the sibling of a U.S. citizen filing for a visa petition, contact Johnson & Masumi.

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