Green Card Processing Time for Siblings
November 10th, 2022
The processing times for a sibling’s green card might be a total mystery for those attempting to help their siblings immigrate to the United States. A knowledgeable immigration lawyer can clarify the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) green card process for siblings. They can also provide accurate information about the standard processing time for USCIS to adjudicate the petition, as well as the time associated with the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin, which truly determines when your sibling will be able to have their Residency / Green Card.
If you are applying for a green card for a sibling, our immigration lawyers can help you navigate the complex USCIS process of getting your sibling here safely. Contact FitzGerald Law Company at (617) 303-2600 to get started on your sibling’s case today.
What is the Green Card Processing Time for Siblings?
Unfortunately, the time frame for a sibling of a U.S. citizen to obtain Legal Permanent Resident status is terribly long, and currently ranges between 16-24 years on average. The long wait times are due to the limited number of Immigrant Visas (Visas for Residency/Green Card) that are available each year for the brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens under Category F-4, and the large number of people who are currently beneficiaries under this residency category.
When a U.S. Citizen applies for resident status for a sibling, they submit a Form I-130 to USCIS, which is the first step in this process, and USCIS will assign that petition a priority date under the Immigrant Visa Category F-4. This petition will include the sibling, the sibling’s spouse and the sibling’s children, who are un-married and under 21 years of age.
There is an annual cap of 65,000 immigrant visas or green cards that can be issued to siblings and their families each year, and because there are so many more than 65,000 beneficiaries in I-130 applications each year, there is a backlog and that backlog has created the 16-24 year time-frame. It is critical to apply for siblings as soon as possible because the time-frame is only getting longer.
USCIS generally takes 5 years or more to adjudicate the I-130 Petition, but that has no significant impact on when the sibling will receive their green card because that is determined by the Visa Bulletin, which is far longer the 5 years. The Immigrant Visa Categories are controlled by the Department of State, and they are published each month in the Visa Bulletin, which can be found at the following site: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin.html.
Why does it take longer for Siblings from certain countries to obtain Residency?
The U.S. government has determined that no country can have more the 7% of the Immigrant Visas (Green Cards) in any particular Residency Category. Certain countries have so many applications that they generally exceed their 7% annual immigration limit, which leads to application backlogs.
If you are from a country where the number of applications for residency is high, this quota could affect you and your siblings. Applicants from countries like India, China, Mexico and the Philippines have to wait much longer to obtain Legal Permanent Residency for the U.S. through their siblings. Our immigration lawyers can explain USCIS’s sibling classification and help estimate the potential wait time for you and your sibling.
Who USCIS Considers a “Sibling” for Purposes of Green Card Processing
A sibling is a brother or sister with whom you share both parents or with who you share one parent under the U.S. Immigration law. The law also permits a sibling to apply for a brother or sister that are related through an adoption, as long as the adoption occurred before the child was 16 years old. Finally, the law allows for a petition to be based upon a step-sibling relationship if the marriage that created the relationship occurred before the children were 18 years old.
How Do I Begin My Sibling’s Green Card Process?
First, you will need to file a Form I-130, known as a Petition for an Alien Relative, with USCIS. The “Priority Date” for the application will be the date that it is received by USCIS. The application will generally be adjudicated within 5 years and if it is granted then a Notice of Approval will be issued.
The case will generally be transferred to the National Visa Center, which is an office within the Department of State, unless it appears that the sibling is in the U.S. and eligible for a green card. Once the “Priority Date” becomes “current” a notice will be sent to the US Citizen Petitioner and the sibling, who is the Principal Beneficiary. An I-864 Affidavit of Support must be filed by the Petitioner and a DS-260 must be filed by the Beneficiary. The case will be sent to the U.S. Consulate for an Interview, and if approved the Sibling will be issued a document to travel to the U.S. as a Legal Permanent Resident.
Can I Expedite My Sibling’s Green Card Processing Time?
Unfortunately, there are few options to speed up your sibling’s green card application process. One of the best things you can do for your sibling is to file all the required forms and supporting evidence correctly and promptly to prevent unnecessary delays.
USCIS does accept request for applications to be expedited, however, USCIS does not have jurisdiction over the National Visa Center, the U.S. Consulate or the Priority Date in the Visa Bulletin, so there is likely little that USCIS could do the expedite the case.
Our Immigration Lawyers Can Help
If you are currently helping a sibling immigrate to the U.S., the immigration lawyers at FitzGerald Law Company are here to provide you with a consultation or to assist you with preparing and filing your I-130 Petition for a sibling. Call us today at (617) 303-2600.