Many people may be interested in helping their siblings to immigrate to the U.S. For persons who are interested in such options, there may be some avenues available for petitioning a sibling under U.S. immigration laws. These can be subject to various restrictions and requirements.

Generally, only U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old may sponsor their siblings to permanently reside in the United States. Lawful permanent residents, such as green card holders, cannot bring their siblings.

How Do the Immigration Authorities Define a Sibling?

Immigration law defines a sibling relationship as one where each person was a child of at least one of the same parents. Siblings include:

  • Brother or sister;
  • Step-brother or step-sister; and
  • Adopted brother or sister.

What Materials Do I Need?

It is important that you provide all the documentation needed for the authorities to process your application. What you must submit with the application depends on your relationship. For example, if you have the same mother, you won’t have to provide as much information as a sibling relationship where there are different mothers. Documents needed include:

  • Birth certificates;
  • U.S. Passport, Certificate of Nationalization or Citizenship;
  • Birth certificates; and/or
  • Legal evidence of any name changes.

If you already see that you can’t supply the necessary documents or have other issues that will prevent your application from being submitted, then you may need to contact a legal professional for guidance and advice.

How Long Will It Take Before I Can Bring My Sibling?

The nature of your relationship and the number of people applying for green cards will dictate when your sibling will obtain permanent residency. Immigration authorities place a quota that caps the number of green cards issued to every country. These quotas can depend on the number of visas that were issued for that category in the previous year. Siblings from certain countries, such as India or Mexico, generally have long waits. Unfortunately, it can take as long as 12 years.

Can the Sibling I Bring to the United States Bring a Spouse or Children with Them?

If the sibling you are sponsoring is married, then their spouse and children are also permitted to permanently reside in the United States. If the sibling you are sponsoring is unmarried and over 21, her children are also permitted to reside in the United States. But, if your sibling is unmarried and under 21, then she would have to sponsor her child once she is in the United States and has obtained permanent residency.

As with any immigration application, knowingly providing false information on an application or during the process can result in immigration fraud charges.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Bring My Sibling into the United States?

Being separated from a sibling can be a very emotional experience. An immigration attorney can help you determine which documents you need so that your petition to bring your sibling to the United States is approved as quickly as possible. An immigration lawyer also can help you file your petition and suggest methods to bring other relatives to the United States.