If you are a United States citizen, you probably have questions about the immigrant visa process. Below are answers to some of the common questions about the immigrant visa process for helping your brothers and sisters obtain green cards.
Who qualifies for an immigrant visa based on being the brother or sister of a United States citizen?
If you are the brother or sister of a United States citizen, you may be eligible for an immigrant visa. To qualify, you must show your family relationship. In addition, it is very important to review the grounds of inadmissibility before you apply for an immigrant visa. If any of the grounds of inadmissibility apply, you will not qualify for an immigrant visa unless you are able to get a waiver of the inadmissibility.
How do you apply for an immigrant visa for your brother or sister?
There are two basic steps to applying for an immigrant visa for your brother or sister:
Step 1: Immigrant visa petition
The immigrant visa petition process begins when a United States citizen submits a Form I-130 petition on behalf of their brother or sister. This petition requests that your brother or sister be allowed to immigrate to the United States. You will need to wait for your petition to be approved and an immigrant visa number to become available before you can move on to the consular processing stage.
Step 2: Consular processing
The consular processing stage begins after the immigrant visa petition is approved, an immigrant visa number becomes available and the petition package is forwarded to the National Visa Center. The National Visa Center will send you instructions for paying the immigrant visa fee and the fee for processing the affidavit of support. You will need to submit the immigrant visa application along with the supporting documents and the affidavit of support to the National Visa Center. After the National Visa Center receives all of the required documents, your brother or sister will be scheduled for an immigrant visa interview at their local consulate or embassy. Assuming that all goes well at the interview, your brother or sister will be issued an immigrant visa and will be able to join you in the United States as a lawful permanent resident.
How long will it take to get an immigrant visa for your brother or sister?
You should expect it to take at least ten years before a visa number becomes available for your brother or sister. Depending on the nationality of your brother or sister, the wait may be even longer. For example, the wait for citizens of Mexico is around fifteen years. The wait for citizens of the Philippines is over twenty years. In addition, if your application is not complete or not organized in a way that makes it easy for the immigration officer to review, you may receive a request for evidence (RFE) asking you for additional information. An RFE will slow down the approval process. Therefore it is very important that you include all of the required information in a well-organized fashion in your initial submission.
The Visa Bulletin is updated monthly and can provide you with an estimate of when a visa number will become available.
The amount of time that your package spends at the National Visa Center will depend largely on how quickly you can obtain and submit the required documents. The time it takes to receive an interview will largely depend on which embassy or consulate the interview will be at. Some locations have a larger backlog and it will take longer to receive an appointment at those locations.
How much will it cost to get an immigrant visa for your brother or sister?
$420 Form I-130 filing fee
$230 Immigrant visa processing fees
$88 Affidavit of support processing fee
Medical exam – varies by doctor and location
Passport photographs – varies by photographer
Translation costs – varies by the translator and type of documents being translated into English
Original documents/certified copies/police certificates – varies by case
Varies by law firm and the complexity of the case. For cases without unusual legal issues and that do not require a waiver, I typically charge a flat fee of $800 for preparing and filing the I-130 petition. Because there may be a wait of many years for a visa to become available for brothers or sisters of United States citizens, the fee does not include assistance with the National Visa Center processing or the immigrant visa interview.
What happens after your brother or sister arrives in the United States?
Your brother or sister will become a permanent resident when he or she enters the United States.
It is very important that your brother or sister understand the requirements for maintaining permanent resident status so that he or she does not make any mistakes that would result in the loss of permanent resident status.
Your brother or sister may be eligible to apply for citizenship in five years.
People can typically apply for citizenship after being a permanent resident for five years years. It is very important to review the qualifications for citizenship before submitting a naturalization application.