Can You Get a Green Card for Your Brother or Sister?

28 Nov, 2023

Today, we will delve into the complex process of obtaining a green card for a sibling through U.S. immigration. Immigration lawyer John Cusravi and associate Andre Sergeyva from the JQK Immigration Law Firm provide a comprehensive breakdown of the rules, timelines, strategies, and potential alternatives for expediting the process.

Timeline Challenges for Sibling Immigration

One of the most daunting aspects of the sibling immigration process is the extensive timeline. The F4 preference category, which pertains to sibling immigration, faces significant backlogs, with wait times ranging from 15 years to possibly 20 or more, depending on the petitioner’s country of origin. This prolonged timeline is primarily due to the limited number of visas allocated annually for this category, coupled with high demand from applicants.

Initiating the Process

To initiate the process, the petitioner must be a U.S. citizen and older than 21 years. The initial step involves filing the I-130 petition with USCIS, followed by a prolonged waiting period for approval, which serves to establish the familial relationship between the petitioner and the sibling. However, the approval of the I-130 petition does not guarantee immediate receipt of the green card, as it is contingent on the progression of the Visa Bulletin’s lengthy waiting line.

Navigating Complexities

The complexities of proving sibling relationships, especially in cases involving step-siblings or adopted siblings, often necessitate extensive documentation, including birth certificates and marriage records. Moreover, the potential for unforeseen circumstances, such as the petitioner’s passing, introduces further complexities, prompting the need for legal consultation to explore potential options for the surviving relatives.

Dependent Considerations

In cases of sibling immigration, the inclusion of the sibling’s spouse and minor children within the application is permissible. However, stringent age restrictions apply to the dependent children, with the Child Status Protection Act offering provisions to mitigate age-related complications.

Strategies for Expedited Processing

While expediting the Visa Bulletin’s waiting line is generally unattainable, certain strategies can expedite specific stages of the process. Notably, leveraging alternative immigration pathways, such as parent-sponsored immigration, may substantially reduce the overall processing time, offering a viable alternative to the protracted sibling immigration route.

Considerations for Tourist Visas

Applicants with pending I-130 petitions may seek tourist visas to visit the United States, provided they meet the requisite eligibility criteria and demonstrate genuine intent for temporary visits. It is crucial to maintain transparency and honesty throughout the visa application process, as any misrepresentation could have adverse implications for the pending I-130 petition.

Alternatives and Diversification

In instances where the F4 preference category poses insurmountable challenges, exploring alternative immigration avenues, such as diversity visas or employment-based immigration, presents viable options to expedite entry into the United States. Additionally, seeking legal counsel to evaluate potential eligibility for other immigration programs is advisable.


Navigating the complexities of obtaining a green card for a sibling entails extensive legal intricacies and protracted waiting periods. While the F4 preference category presents formidable challenges, understanding the nuances of the process and exploring alternative immigration opportunities can potentially expedite the path to lawful immigration.

For personalized guidance and tailored immigration insights, scheduling a consultation with experienced immigration attorneys is pivotal in charting an informed and efficient course toward achieving familial reunification and lawful permanent residency in the United States.

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