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How Do I Bring a Sibling to Live in the United States?

This information is for U.S. citizens who wish to bring a sibling to live permanently in the United States. Only U.S. citizens can bring their siblings to live permanently in the U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents can not.

Definition of a Sibling
Overview of the Immigration Process
What Does the Law Say?
Who is Eligible to Sponsor a Sibling?
How Do I File the Visa Petition?
How Can I Check the Status of My Visa Petition?
Can Anyone Help Me?
Frequently Asked Questions
Information For Your Alien Relative

Definition of a Sibling
A sibling is a brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or adopted brother or sister. For the necessary sibling relationship to exist, each person must have been a child of at least one of the same parents. The siblings need not share the same biological parents as long as both became "children" at the appropriate time (before the age of 16 in cases of adoption, and before the age of 18 for stepchildren).

Overview of the Immigration Process
A legal immigrant (or "lawful permanent resident") is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of living and working permanently in the United States. There is a three-step process for your brother or sister to become a legal immigrant:

  1. The USCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition that you file for your brother or sister.
  2. The State Department visa bulletin must show that a sibling immigrant visa is available to your sibling, based on the date that you filed the immigrant visa application.
  3. If your brother or sister is outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, your brother or sister will be notified to go to the local U.S. consulate to complete the processing for an immigrant visa. If your sibling is legally inside the U.S. when an immigrant visa number becomes available, he or she may apply to adjust status to that of a lawful permanent resident using the Form I-485.

Depending on the relationship and the country involved, the wait for an available sibling visa number may be several years. You may refer to the Department of State's Visa Bulletin for current priority dates.

For an excellent overview of immigration, please see the chapter and tables on immigrants in the Immigration Statistical Yearbook. For more information on immigrant visa numbers, please see How Do I Get an Immigrant Visa Number?

What Does the Law Say?
The Immigration and Nationality Act is a law that governs the admission of all immigrants to the United States. For the part of the law concerning immigrant visas for siblings, please see INA 203 and INA 204. The specific eligibility requirements and procedures for applying for immigrant visas and permanent residence are included in the Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] at 8 CFR 204.1, 8 CFR 204.2 and 8 CFR 245.

Who is Eligible to Sponsor a Sibling?
If you are a U.S. citizen and at least 21 years old, you are eligible to petition to bring your brother or sister to live and work permanently in the United States. If you are a lawful permanent resident, you are not eligible to apply to bring your brother or sister to live and work permanently in the United States.

How Do I File the Visa Petition?
For more information on how to petition for your brother or sister to live in the United States permanently, please see the Petitioning Procedures.

How Can I Check the Status of My Visa Petition?
To check the status of your visa petition, you will need to contact the USCIS office that received it. Full instructions can be found at Finding the Status of Your Case.

Can Anyone Help Me?
If advice is needed, you may contact the USCIS District Office near your home for a list of community-based, non-profit organizations that may be able to help you in applying for an immigration benefit. In addition, please see our web page that provides information on obtaining free legal advice.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
Do you want further information? Click here for access to our Frequently Asked Questions on immigration.

Information for Your Alien Relative
For more information on adjusting to permanent resident status the alien relative should refer to How Do I Become a Lawful Permanent Resident While In the United States?

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