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I-130 Petitions: How to Bring Your Sibling into the US

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Is it Possible to Sponsor a Sibling for a Visa?

Yes, family-based immigration does allow U.S. citizens to file a petition for an immigrant visa for a brother or sister. However, sponsoring a visa for a family member is not an easy task, and the process is complex and lengthy.

The Limitations of Filing a Sibling-Based Immigration Petition

If you’re considering family-based immigration, you first need to understand the limitations of this process. It doesn’t work for all relationships, and your own citizenship status impacts who you can sponsor for a visa through this process.

Those who are U.S. citizens can file petitions on behalf of close relatives, including a spouse, a child, a parent, or a sibling. Those who are U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents may only file petitions for a spouse or an unmarried child.

So, if you want to file a petition for a sibling, you must be a U.S. citizen.

However, petitions for siblings are considered under the family preference category. The United States only allows a certain number of visas in this category every year. Once the allotted visas run out, you have to wait until the next year to see if you can get a visa. It is not uncommon for siblings to wait years—and some people wait a decade or more—to get a visa through this process. It’s also very common for these applications to be denied, and there’s no guarantee you will get a visa at all.

What Is an I-130 Form?

The I-130 form is used to establish your relationship to another person, indicating that you can sponsor a visa for them through family-based immigration. You can file the form online or by mail. To file the form online, you have to create an account with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To file by mail, you must complete the form and mail it and all applicable evidence to the appropriate USCIS lockbox based on where you live.

What Evidence Is Required for the I-130?

In addition to completing the form itself properly and completely, you need to attach evidence that establishes your citizenship and your sibling relationship with the person you want to sponsor.

Evidence you will need to attach to the petition includes:

  • Proof that you are a U.S. citizen. This can include a copy of your birth certificate, a copy of a current U.S. passport, a copy of forms demonstrating you were born abroad as a U.S. citizen, or paperwork documenting your citizenship or naturalization.
  • Evidence of a sibling relationship via birth certificates for you both.
  • Any documents relating to formal name changes, such as if you, your sibling, or both of you married and have different last names now.

Are There Filing Fees?

Yes, the USCIS charges a filing fee for form I-130. The fee for filing online is $625. The fee when filing via paper is $675.

What Happens After You File an I-130?

If you provide evidence of the sibling relationship, the I-130 is typically approved. However, this does not mean your brother or sister is approved for a family-based visa. This only means that they may be able to apply to get a Green Card.

The process your family member must go through to get a visa after the relationship has been documented via the I-130 form depends on whether they are inside or outside of the country at the time. They may need to adjust their status if they are inside the country, and that can involve additional forms and processes.

Because siblings do not qualify as immediate relatives for the purpose of family-based immigration, they will need to wait for a visa option to become available. A limited number are approved every year, and your relative will likely need to wait until a future year to be approved for a visa if the list in front of them is long. The wait is long for the sibling preference category. The estimated wait time is found on the US Department of State’s Visa Bulletin page and is updated every month. It is important to understand that the wait time is years, even decades, to get your sibling an immigrant visa through this process.

Other factors play a role in getting approved for a visa even if you appropriately document the family relationship. If your sibling is from a certain country, has a criminal background, or is in poor health, for example, these factors may create obstacles during the visa process.

How Can an Immigration Lawyer Help?

An immigration lawyer can act as an experienced and professional guide through the I-130 and family-based immigration process. Some assistance an immigration lawyer might provide includes:

  • Explaining your options for immigration paths. With numerous paths to citizenship, it can be difficult to understand which one might be the most viable for you or your loved ones. The long wait times and expenses mean you don’t want to randomly try various paths, so it helps to have experienced guidance.
  • Completing forms on your behalf. An immigration legal team is practiced at completing the forms required for visa processes. They can help ensure your forms are completed correctly, reducing the chances of unnecessary denials.
  • Submitting forms and following up on processes. Your attorney can handle the entire forms submission process and may be able to follow up on your status in a more efficient manner than you can on your own.
  • Appealing decisions, if necessary. If your application or forms are denied, your attorney will know if you can appeal the decision and how to do so.

For help with immigration issues and processes, reach out to Jarrett & Price, Trial Attorneys, today by calling 855-909-3021.

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