Do you know what green cards are? A green card is a form of identification and proof that the person holding it has permission to live and work in the United States of America for an indefinite period. 

There are many different types of green cards, but we will only be focusing on the ones available to US citizens applying for their siblings here.


A US citizen can apply for a ‘green card’ for their sibling with three conditions: if they’re under 21 years old, over 21 years old but unmarried, or over 21 years old with children. 

This means that if your parents have been sponsoring you until now, then it may be worth checking whether you’re still eligible to continue doing so. If not, you might need to look into changing your status.

What Goes on in a Green Card Application Process for Siblings

Right now, the US is processing green card applications from December 2015. Your sibling must have been in the country for 20 years, but should not have any criminal record. 

In other words, it’s a relatively straightforward process that comes with many benefits for you and your eligible family members. However, there are also some restrictions, so be sure to read further before applying yourself.

For one thing, people who have applied for a green card through family sponsorship in the past three years will be unable to do so again. Unfortunately, this means that if you or anyone else has ever tried to get a green card through a US citizen relative in the last three years, you will not be able to do so again in the future. 

On the other hand, if it’s been longer than three years since your family member last applied for a green card, then nobody in your family is likely to have this problem.

It’s also worth noting that you must be able to financially support any of your siblings who are applying from overseas, which means that their green card applications cannot have been denied because of a low income. 

US citizens sponsoring people from overseas must show that they can support them at a minimum of 125% above the poverty line. As long as you meet these requirements, there isn’t anything specific that makes sibling green cards different from any others.

You should keep in mind that if your US citizen relative sponsors you, then you can’t get any form of public assistance for at least 5 years. This includes Medicaid, SSI and cash benefits like TANF. However, there are exceptions to this including certain disability benefits.

However, if anyone involved has served in the military or is serving now, they will not be subject to these restrictions even if their green card application succeeds. 

The same applies if they have received a Purple Heart or other combat decoration. If you meet the requirements listed above and none of these exceptions applies to you, then congratulations 

Your green card sibling process should be relatively simple.

How Much Does it Cost?

The filing fees for all applications are $535 per applicant, so it’s important to start saving up before you begin this process! Currently, there is an additional fee of $85 if you want to schedule an appointment at the US embassy or consulate nearest you. 

It may take several months after they submit their visa paperwork to get an interview, but in some cases, you can get a provisional approval up to 120 days before the interview.

What Happens When They Enter?

As soon as your sibling enters the US on their green card, they will have to submit Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status). At this time, you must prove that you’re still eligible for a green card and pay an additional fee of $1,170. 

You’ll also need to submit any documents which show a change in status since filing for your original green card. This could be anything from an updated birth certificate proving that one of the siblings is now over 21 years old, to school transcripts showing that someone has been studying longer than they said they would be.

If the US authorities are happy with what you submitted, then they’ll approve your green card application and send your sibling a green card. If they have any issues or questions about something that was submitted, then applicants will usually receive a letter asking for more information.

All of this can take several months to complete, but it’s worth noting that once you have been approved for your original green card through family sponsorship it is legal for you to work in America without needing to apply separately for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

What Is the Timeline?

You may wonder how long all of this will take from start to finish – especially since it can sometimes add up to several years! The only way to know for sure is to start this process as soon as possible. You can find more information about the timeline in our article on green card timelines.

What Are the Common Misconceptions People Have?

A lot of people believe that if you’re related to a US citizen then it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll get a green card – but this simply isn’t true! Even if your US citizen sibling is just a cousin or a distant relative who you never see, they must be willing to sponsor you. 

You can’t apply on your own and have them file for you – this goes against the whole point of family sponsorship [18]. Another common misconception is that all green card siblings have to enter the US as refugees or immigrants – but this isn’t true either.

Citizens of certain countries will not even need a visa at all to enter the country. They may need to submit form I-94W though if their stay lasts longer than 30 days.

Many people also think that it doesn’t matter how long a sibling has been out of the US when they apply for a green card to stay in America with their entire family.

However, all family members who plan on entering the country together do need to have been outside America for at least one year before they begin this process – apart from children under 14 years old.

What Happens If My Sibling Is Already Married?

If your brother or sister has married someone who isn’t a US citizen and wants to apply for a green card too, then you will need to provide them with form I-864 (Affidavit of Support). They must also include documents like birth certificates and marriage licenses proving that they are married. If their spouse would like to work during their stay in the US then they must also submit form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization).

What If My Sibling Is Adopted?

If your brother or sister has legally adopted a child of theirs who isn’t yet 21 years old, then they can include them on their immigration application as long as the adoption happened abroad. This means that you’ll need to provide proof of all adoption agreements and court orders which prove this relationship. 

If the adoption was already finalized before your parents left America, then it’s waived and you can send in whatever documents show that your sibling holds legal custody instead. 

However, if the adoption happened while your family member was still out of the US then they will need to apply through Form I-600 (Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative). 

They must provide all legal documents which prove the adoption took place.

What If My Sibling Has Children?

If your brother or sister wants to bring their kids to America with them, then you will need to include form I-864 for each child when you send in your application. 

You’ll also have to compensate financially for any time that they are allowed to stay in the US after your sibling applies – this can lead up to thousands of dollars! If they plan on staying longer than 6 years then they will even be required to pay part of their healthcare costs.

You must remember that you cannot sponsor anyone until you have been approved for a green card yourself. You can find out more information about this process in our guide to US green card applications.

For more information, you may ask or consult with Houston immigration lawyers.

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