Once you’re a U.S. citizen there are a few different categories of individuals you can petition for. These categories include your spouse, children, parents, and siblings. However, it’s important to note that there are two primary distinctions within these categories: immediate relatives and non-immediate relatives.
Immediate Relatives: Spouses, Parents, and Children
Immediate relatives are your spouse, children under the age of 21, and parents. The key distinction with immediate relatives is that they don’t have to wait in a line for a visa to become available. While there are still processing times involved, immediate relatives are immediately eligible to receive their green cards once the process is complete.
Relatives: Siblings and Older Children
Non-immediate relatives, on the other hand, do have to wait for both processing times and the availability of visas. This category includes siblings and children over the age of 21. The U.S. immigration system allocates a specific number of visas each year for non-immediate relatives. Once that quota is reached, individuals in this category have to wait in a line until a visa becomes available.
Understanding Visa Bulletin and Wait Times
To shed some light on the waiting process, the U.S. Department of State releases a monthly Visa Bulletin. This bulletin provides insight into how many visas have been used and how many are available for each category.
Individuals from certain countries might experience longer wait times due to higher demand. As an example, let’s consider siblings of U.S. citizens from countries like China, Mexico, or the Philippines. The wait times for these individuals can span several decades. In the June 2023 Visa Bulletin, sibling petitions for Mexico are being processed for cases filed in the year 2000. This illustrates the extended waiting periods non-immediate relatives might face.
While we primarily focus on couple-based cases, we also help with petitions involving parents and children. If you’re considering a sibling petition, we’re happy to discuss this during a consultation. At Immigration for Couples, we aim to equip you with accurate and updated information to navigate the immigration process successfully.
We also offer a free Resource Center on our website, where you’ll find helpful charts and a relationship evidence guide.