Thursday, April 18, 2013

Want to Help a Brother or Sister Come to the U.S.? You May Need to Act Soon!

The so-called "Gang of Eight" unveiled its immigration reform proposal in the Senate today.  The proposal contained a lot of changes; too many to detail in a blog entry such as this.  It does appear that that in order to account for the undocumented aliens who may be permitted to stay in the United States, other visa categories may be restricted or eliminated altogether.  The full text of the 844 page immigration reform bill, titled the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act," can be found at this link.

One of the more surprising proposals is the elimination of permanent residency visas for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.  Currently, a U.S. citizen can petition for a visa for a foreign-born brother or sister.  A very limited number of such visas are available on an annual basis, meaning that there is currently a backlog of approved visa petitions waiting for a visa to become available.  Dubbed category F4, for most countries visas for brothers or sisters of U.S. citizens are just becoming available for petitions which were filed on or before May 1, 2001.  For brothers and sisters from the Philippines, visas are just becoming available where the visa petition was filed on or before October 1, 1989.

The bill will now be introduced in the Senate, and will go through debate and "mark-up."  Mark-up is where amendments to the bill can be considered.  Even if the bill passes the Senate, it must pass the House of Representatives as well.  This means that it is likely that the bill which was introduced today will undergo numerous changes should it become law.

Nonetheless, the proposal to eliminate the brothers and sisters of U.S citizens category should cause some degree of urgency for those who wish to assist their sibling in coming to the United States.  If a citizen wants to help a sibling, that citizen should not delay in filing the visa petition.  Waiting to file could mean that the citizen and the sibling have lost their opportunity to obtain a permanent residency visa.

If you want to consult with an immigration attorney about filing a sibling petition, or for any other immigration matter, call me at (703) 837-8832 for an appointment.

By:  William J. Kovatch, Jr.
(703) 837-8832

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