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US Visas for Brothers and Sisters of US Citizens

Transcript of the above video:

In this video, we're going to be discussing U.S. visas available for the siblings - the brothers and sisters - of United States citizens. Basically those who are United States citizens, so let's say for example, someone born in the United States whose siblings were not necessarily conferred with citizenship upon their birth, or someone who moves to the United States due to marrying an American citizen or American lawful permanent resident and moving through the green card track and adjustment of status and/or naturalization process, or those who go to the United States on an employment-based visa, adjust status to green card status or lawful permanent residence and then go ahead and naturalize to U.S. citizenship. A lot of these folks have siblings and there is a provision under the Immigration Nationality Act to allow application for the siblings of United States citizens to be granted immigrant benefits.

Siblings of U.S. citizens are the lowest preference category noted in the Immigration Nationality Act so the processing time is the slowest. It can be definitely over a decade to go ahead and process one of those cases, probably maybe closer to a decade and a half, maybe even two decades to process those cases through. There's a significant backlog and also they're just simply not prioritized so that those cases are coming in at the top of the queue as it were. So just from the standpoint of how long it's going to take to get a visa for the sibling of the U.S. citizen, it's going to take a relatively significant amount of time.

That being stated, as a category, it exists as of the time of this filming. As previously noted in another video on this channel, there is a piece of legislation called the Raise Act which has been proposed by the Trump Administration. The provisions of the Raise Act, at least the proposed provisions, would probably eviscerate the preference category for siblings of U.S. citizens. Essentially, it's going to wipe that out and for that reason, those who are seriously interested or have even contemplated getting their sibling U.S. immigration benefits pursuant to the fact that that the sibling, the counterpart sibling is an American citizen should seriously consider undertaking such an endeavor fairly quickly because I think there's a pretty good chance that the Raise Act is going to get passed by both the lower and the upper houses of the U.S. Congress and I think it's very likely that the administration namely Donald Trump or the president of the United States namely Donald Trump is going to go ahead and sign that legislation and in the event that he does, I think that the sibling category is going to get wiped out. I think that they're just basically going to take it out.

Something to keep in mind with respect to this is even in discussions that I had with other immigration attorneys and in the readings that I did on immigration law, even under proposed comprehensive immigration reform under the Obama Administration which was notably more tolerant toward certain areas of immigration than the current administration, even under that administration when discussing CIR, Comprehensive Immigration Reform, it was pretty widely assumed that the sibling category was probably going to go away or at least truncated to the point of being effectively wiped out. So I think it's pretty safe to assume that if there's legislation coming from the Trump Administration with respect to the United States immigration or reform thereof, it's pretty safe to assume that these sibling categories are going to be wiped away. I don't think it's going to be a category under which one can petition for immigrant visa benefits for a family member and as a result of that, I think you're going to see fewer and fewer siblings of U.S. citizens getting immigrant visa benefits in the future moving down the line.

That being said, those who applied before any prospective rule change comes into force, I think it's very safe to say that it's very likely that those folks are going to get “grandfathered” in under the old rules as long as their application or petition was accepted and received and receipt notice was issued prior to a certain date; probably some dates specified in the enacting legislation. And so long as those folks get in sort of before the deadline, they will be in the process and will start moving through the queue for immigrant visa benefits. But those folks who missed the deadline are going to probably be treated, are going to operate under the provisions of the new law and therefore may not be able to gain the same benefits that existed prior to the promulgation of the legislation Raise Act, the legislation in question.

So to sum this all up, I think it's a pretty good idea to contact a legal professional, someone who specializes in U.S. immigration matters in order to ascertain where one sits with respect to these issues especially if you're a sibling or you have a sibling who lives abroad and you're a U.S. citizen, to go ahead and understand what all the possibilities are under the law as it sits now in order to best position oneself for the likely probability that we're going to see a pretty major change with respect to categorization of family immigrants.