Can I live anywhere in the U.S. with permanent residency?

Happy Independence Day! I am very grateful to the United States for all that the country has helped my family. I hope you are enjoying the greatness and freedoms of this country on this day.

In this week's Consulta Migratoria® column, I answer a question from a reader who wants to know if she can obtain permanent residency through a U.S. citizen sibling.

Each case is different and the answers vary depending on the immigration history of each person. Here I provide general answers to your questions. Please consult with an immigration attorney to receive personalized legal advice before beginning any process.

This is the column:

I am Dominican. I have a 10 year U.S. visitor's visa. I got it to travel to the country last year. I previously lived in the United States for 5 years. My younger brother was born in Rhode Island in 1992 and at the age of 5 went to live in the Dominican Republic. After many years, he traveled to Puerto Rico to study in college. He was charged a fine for staying out of the country too long.

My brother is my only legitimate family since our parents are deceased. Can he help me obtain permanent residency? Does he have the responsibility to support me? Do I have to live where my brother is? How long would the process take? - Marianny O.

Marianny, your U.S. citizen brother could file a family petition on your behalf if you both meet the proper requirements.

First of all, they do not charge immigration fines to U.S. citizens for living outside the United States. Consult with a legal professional to find out what type of fine your brother was given.

To get the family petition approved, your sibling will have to prove your citizenship and your relationship to each other by showing that you have at least one parent in common. To do this, you will need to present your birth certificates.

If the family petition is approved, the case will be assigned to the F-4 family category. According to the Visa Bulletin, F-4 family category cases are being processed for Dominicans that were filed before October 22, 2002. In other words, there is currently a wait of approximately 13 years to obtain an immigrant visa that would allow you to travel to the United States to live permanently.

When an immigrant visa is available for your case, the federal government will ask your brother for a letter of support showing that he can support you. If he cannot meet this requirement on his own, he can seek the help of a co-sponsor who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to serve as a co-signer.

When you become a permanent resident, you do not have to live where your brother is. You can live anywhere in the United States, but you will have to list the address where you will live on your immigrant visa application.

If you have lived in the U.S. illegally in the past or lied on applications for immigration benefits, including your current tourist visa, you should consult with an immigration attorney before initiating any immigration proceedings.

For more information and immigration tips, read my blog

Send your questions to Include detailed information about your situation to better answer your questions.

Nelson A. Castillo, Esq. is an immigration attorney and author of La Tarjeta Verde: Cómo Obtener la Residencia Permanente en los Estados Unidos (Green Card: How to Obtain Permanent Residence in the United States) and presenter of immigration television segments of The Lawyer at Your Side in NY1 News. He is a past President of the Hispanic National Bar Association and current President of the Westlake South Los Angeles Neighborhood Council. For information on how to consult with Dr. Castillo, click here. click here.

The purpose of this column is to provide general information. There can be no guarantee or prediction as to what will be the outcome of the information presented by Dr. Nelson A. Castillo. The information should not be taken as legal advice for any individual, case or situation. Consult with an immigration attorney for personalized legal advice before beginning any immigration proceedings.