Immigrant Visa Petitions for Parents and Siblings
U.S. citizens are eligible to file Immigrant Visa Petitions for their parents and their siblings. This petition is officially called “Form I-130, Immigrant Petition for Alien Relative” and is filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). The filing of this petition is the first step in the process towards being granted permanent resident status (green card).
Petition for Parents
To file a petition for a parent, a U.S. citizen must be at least 21-years-old. When filing the petition, the U.S. citizen must prove a valid parent-child relationship. This is often accomplished by submitting the petitioner’s birth certificate, which obviously would have to state his or her mother’s or father’s name as the parent.
However, the submission of a birth certificate is not always sufficient. The USCIS will sometimes question whether there is a valid parent-child relationship. The USCIS may request secondary evidence to verify the relationship. This secondary evidence may include affidavits from other people who are familiar with the relationship, medical and school records that clearly show the parent’s and the child’s names, photographs throughout the relationship, etc. In some instances though, even this secondary evidence is insufficient to prove parentage. Accordingly, USCIS may ask the parties to undergo a DNA test to prove a biological relationship.
There are some instances where a U.S. citizen may file a petition for their parent even when there is not a biological relationship. For instance, a U.S. citizen may want to petition their step-parent. This is permissible so long as the marriage that formed the step-relationship was valid and entered into before the U.S. citizen turned 18-years-old. Another example of a U.S. citizen petitioning a parent in a non-biological relationship is in cases of adoption. There is an entirely different set of laws that determine whether an adoption qualifies for immigration purposes, but the adoption must typically occur before the U.S. citizen turned 16-years-old.
A person that has been petitioned by their U.S. citizen child is called an “Immediate Relative.” This is crucial because beneficiaries of “Immediate Relative” petitions are not forced to wait for an available visa number. Rather, as soon as the Immigrant Visa Petition is approved, they may immediately apply for their green card. If the person is in the U.S. and applying for adjustment of status, they may even file their application for a green card jointly with the Immigrant Visa Petition. If the person is not in the U.S. then they would have to apply for an Immigrant Visa at the U.S. Consulate in their home country.
Please note that permanent residents may not file petitions for their parents. This privilege is only available to U.S. citizens.
Petitions for Siblings
A U.S. citizen who is at least 21-years-old may also file an Immigrant Visa Petition for their sibling(s). When filing this petition, the U.S. citizen will have to prove that there is a valid sibling relationship. This requires that they both be children of at least one of the same parents.
It is important for U.S. citizens to file petitions for their siblings as soon as they are eligible. The reason it is important to file it as the earliest possible time is because this category is subject to severe backlogs. There are more people who want to immigrate in this category than there are available visas, so it is likely there will be a waiting time. This wait could possibly extend to many, many years. Thus, the earlier the petition is filed, the earlier you are able to move to the front of the line and apply for a green card.
Though siblings do have to wait for their priority dates to become current, there is one major benefit to being the beneficiary of a sibling petition. When they do ultimately apply for permanent resident status, the sibling may bring their spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 to apply for permanent resident status. It is possible that some children may have already turned 21 by this point and “aged out” before they are eligible to apply. In this scenario, a new petition from that child’s parent may be required after the parent has acquired their green card. However, certain circumstances can allow even children who are already over 21 to be eligible at the time their parent immigrates. They may qualify for protection under the Child Status Protection Act.