Many people know that spouses, parents and minor children of U.S. citizens are eligible to get a green card and become permanent residents. But it is less commonly known that other family members can qualify for green cards too. Eligible non-immediate relatives include siblings, unmarried children over the age of 21, and married children of any age.
These family members do not have the same preferred immigration status as immediate relatives. That means that only a limited number of visas are available to non-immediate family members every year. In many cases, adult children and siblings will have a lengthy wait before a visa becomes available.
Because the wait for a visa can be long, it is a good idea to start the application process as soon as possible. The process has two steps. In step one, the person who is a U.S. citizen files a petition on behalf of their relative. Once the petition is approved, the relative then must wait for a visa to become available. In step two, the relative files an application for adjustment of status to become a permanent resident. If the relative lives outside of the United States, the application will go through consular processing. This means that the U.S. State Department will oversee aspects of the application and issue the green card in the foreign country. The relative can then travel to the U.S. on the green card, officially becoming a permanent resident on arrival.
Applying for a green card for a sibling or adult child can be tedious because of the complexity of the application and the long wait. An experienced immigration lawyer can help you navigate the process.