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Navigating the F4 Visa: Sibling Green Card

F4 Visa Sibling Green Card

You grew up with them, they played with you, they teased you, they protected you, and in your eyes your siblings are immediate relatives. However, in the eyes of USCIS a sibling green card falls under the family-based category and not the immediate relative category. Also known as the F4 visa, this family-based green card category varies from immediate relative green cards in terms of processing time, forms, necessary documents, and even who is allowed to sponsor them.

To sponsor a sibling for an F4 visa, you must be a U.S. citizen and at least 21 years old. Permanent residents can’t sponsor siblings to live permanently in the country.

Here is the best way to navigate and understand the F4 visa process.

USCIS’ Definition of Sibling for the F4 Visa

Every family looks different. Fortunately, USCIS understands that and has a wide definition for sibling. Full-blooded siblings, paternal half-siblings, step siblings, and adopted siblings are eligible for an F4 visa.

While all these categories can receive a sibling green card, there are different types of required documentation for each type of sibling. We’ll go over more of the details for each type of category later.

Sibling Green Card Forms: I-130, I-485 I-693, I-864, DS-260, DS-261

Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative

Form I-130 is always required for any family-based green card petition. Only the U.S. citizen who is sponsoring the sibling can fill and submit the form. The sibling is considered the beneficiary. When USCIS accepts and receipts the I-130, it will assign a priority date to the petition.

You don’t need to fill out a separate I-130 for your sibling’s spouse or their unmarried children under 21 years old.

To best fill out the I-130, be prepared to answer questions about the following topics:

  • The type of relationship you have with your sibling
  • Your biographical information including:
    • Address history
    • Marriage status and information about your spouse and any past spouses
    • Information about your parents
    • Employment history
    • Immigration status
    • Ethnicity, race, weight, height, and eye and hair color
  • Your sibling’s biographical information including:
    • Current name and any history of name changes
    • Immigration information
    • Current address
    • Marriage status and information about his or her spouse and any past spouses
    • Information regarding your sibling’s children
    • Any history of entry to the U.S.
    • Information about your sibling’s employment
  • Your history petitioning other relatives
  • Your contact information
  • The interpreter’s contact information if one was used
  • The contact information of the person who filled out the application if one was used

Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status

If your sibling is already in the U.S. under a nonimmigrant visa, then they will be able to adjust their status to an immigrant green card by submitting form I-485 once their F-4 priority date is current. Currently there is 14-15 year wait for the F-4 priority date to become current from the time the I-130 is filed with USCIS. It is important to note that if your sibling is in the country but not under a visa then they will still need to proceed with their application as if they were outside of the country including traveling to the home country to do the interview at the embassy or consulate when the priority date becomes current.

Your sibling is the only one who can fill out I-485. They should be prepared to answer questions regarding the following topics:

  • Basic information regarding name, past names, address information, and recent immigration information
  • The visa category they are filing for
  • Their address history and employment history
  • Information about their parents
  • Information about their current marital status and marital history
  • Information about their children if they have any
  • Information regarding any memberships they may have had to organizations, clubs, societies, associations, or similar while in the U.S.
  • Criminal history
  • Any security and espionage activity
  • Information about the possibility of being a public charge
  • Any immigration violations or removals
  • Their contact information
  • The interpreter’s contact information if one was used
  • The contact information of the person who filled out the application if one was used

Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record

A USCIS-approved physician must perform a medical exam on your sibling for the F4 visa. Those results will come in a sealed envelope with your I-693.

If your sibling is in the U.S., they can find an approved physician at USCIS’ Find a Doctor tool. If your sibling is outside the country, they need to search for the U.S. embassy or consulate in their area, and review the instructions for the medical exam and the authorized practitioners.

The exam includes a physical and mental evaluation, drug and alcohol screening, medical history review, immunization records, and tests for different diseases and illnesses. The physician might refer your sibling to another physician for additional testing depending on their findings in the initial exam. I-693 is not complete and signed until all testing required by the approved-physician is complete.

There are some health-related issues that will make your sibling inadmissible that are important to note. If your sibling has any communicable diseases, physical or mental disorders that result in harmful behavior, substance abuse, substance-abuse related mental disorders that can result in harmful behavior, or failure to show proof of required vaccinations, then they will not be allowed to have an F4 visa. If your sibling has other diseases or disorders, they won’t necessarily be ruled inadmissible but it can be used as evidence for overall inadmissibility with other grounds.

Form I-864, Affidavit of Support

In order to demonstrate that you can support your sibling financially until they have found employment, you must submit form I-864. In this form, you must demonstrate evidence of an annual income that is at least 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guideline.

You need to be prepared to answer questions about the following topics:

  • Basic name and address information for your sibling
  • Your basic name and address information
  • Your household size
  • Your employment and income information
  • Income information from anyone else in your household that will be used to support your sibling
  • Information about your assets only if your income alone does not reach 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guideline

Forms DS-260, Immigrant Visa Electronic Application

Once your I-130 is approved and the priority date becomes current, your sibling must submit DS-260, the online visa application. The application must be submitted with a copy of the I-864.

Sibling Green Card Document Checklist

USCIS requires the following documents when petitioning for an F4 visa:

  • A copy of your birth certificate and your sibling’s birth certificate to prove there is at least one parent in common.
  • Any document that can prove your citizenship status, which can include copies of a U.S. birth certificate, passport, citizenship certificate, naturalization certificate, or a consular report of birth abroad.
  • You must submit your most recent federal tax return and W-2s for form I-864 Affidavit of Support. You should also submit any form 1099 from the past three years, pay stubs from the past six months, a signed letter from your employer, or any other information about your reported income that may help you.
  • For the medical exam, your sibling should bring a full copy of their medical history, vaccination and immunization records, copies of previous chest X-rays, and treatment plan from their doctor for any health conditions.
  • If your sibling is submitting an adjustment of status they need a copy of the approval notice from the green card petition, their I-94 arrival/departure card, their I-797 approval notice from their previous nonimmigrant status, a copy of any Employment Authorization Documents, and the results of the medical examination from their original I-693. More documents may be required depending on what type of nonimmigrant visa your sibling holds.
  • Two passport photographs

DNA evidence can be submitted if for some reason birth certificates are not available or USCIS determines them unreliable. Note that USCIS can suggest DNA testing but does not have the authority to require testing.

F4 Visa Fees

Sibling green card fees vary depending on the complexity and supporting documentation needs of every case. Fees start out at $1,285—not including the medical examination fee—but can definitely grow. Below is the breakdown of fees:

  • I-130: $535
  • I-864: $120
  • Biometrics : $85
  • DS-260: $325
  • USCIS Fee for green card production and issuance:: $220
  • Medical Examination (Varies)
  • I-485: $1,140 (only needed if in the country under a nonimmigrant visa)

F4 Visa Interview

After the National Visa Center has all your documentation, it will schedule an interview with your sibling at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their country of residence. If your sibling has a spouse or children that will also be a part of the F4 visa, they must also complete DS-260, do a medical exam, and attend the interview.

The purpose of the interview is to determine if your sibling is eligible for the F4 visa and whether all the documentation provided is accurate. The interviewer will also ask your sibling questions regarding his or her background.

Your sibling must also bring documents to the interview including photographs and original or copies of all provided civil documents submitted to the National Visa Center. Your sibling must not forget to bring any of these documents.

Sibling Green Card Processing Time

The sibling green card is known as the F4 visa for a reason. There are four family-based green card categories. The sibling category is the last one, which makes processing time the longest.

In addition, the sibling green card processing time varies depending on the service center your I-130 was submitted. The I-130 can take anywhere from 6 months to 10 years to be processed and approved. You can check the latest processing times for your I-130 by service center here.

You can check on your specific case status by inputting your receipt number in the USCIS’ case status checker.

Only 65,000 F4 visas are distributed every year, which also leads to long delays in approval. For the most accurate information on visa approvals visit the visa bulletin.

If your sibling filed I-485, it can take around six months or longer to process. This form is also dependent on the caseload for the designated service center. You can check the latest processing times for the I-485 by service center here.

Additional Documents for Adopted, Step, and Paternal-Half Siblings for an F4 Visa

Adopted Siblings

To sponsor an adopted sibling, you must also submit a copy of the adoption decree that demonstrates that you and your adopted sibling were under 16 years old before the adoption took place.

It is important to note that if your full-blooded sibling was later adopted by another family you can not sponsor that sibling for an F4 visa.

Step Siblings

To sponsor a step sibling you must provide a copy of your natural parent and step-parent’s marriage certificate and copies of any documents demonstrating that their prior marriages were terminated.

Half Siblings

To sponsor a paternal half-sibling, you must provide a copy of each marriage certificate from your father to each mother along with copies of documents demonstrating the prior marriages were terminated.

What to Do If Your Sibling is Denied an F4 Visa

If your sibling falls under any of the following grounds of inadmissibility—among other reasons—they will be denied a sibling green card:

  • Criminal grounds
  • Security and espionage grounds
  • Health-related grounds
  • Being considered a public charge
  • Violating immigration Law
  • Being ineligible for citizenship
  • Previous removal
  • Fraud

Some of these grounds can be waived. However, the following grounds cannot:

  • Drug addiction or abuse
  • Drug trafficking
  • Those found to be spies
  • Involvement in terrorism

What to Do If Your Sibling is Approved for an F4 Visa

Once your sibling is approved for an F4 visa, the first thing to do is celebrate. Then your sibling will receive the visa stamped to his or her passport along with a sealed packet with a letter stapled to it. Your sibling should verify the information on the visa and the letter are correct. The packet must be submitted unopened to an immigration officer at a port-of-entry.

How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help

F4 visa applications are complicated even for the simplest of cases, and processing times keep getting longer. Also, if your petition is not filed properly any single mistake can be costly and lead to delay or denial. An experienced family-based green card attorney is the best guide for the process.

At Immi-USA, our highly experienced green card immigration attorneys will help you file your petition. With our expertise in the field, we will help you avoid the common immigration pitfalls. To schedule a consultation with one of our immigration lawyers today, you can simply fill out this contact form.