We are all waiting for Immigration Reform. The proposals are very promising, and most of us can not wait. But Changing our country’s Immigration system, may come with a price. Obviously, we can not help everybody. It seems that while the focus is on Skilled Workers, the concern is that certain family categories may be affected as part of the Reform.
“Green cards are economic engines for the country,” Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., a member of the so-called Senate Gang of Eight working on immigration reform, recently told the Associated Press. “This is not a family court we’re dealing with here. We’re dealing about an economic need.”
Under Sen. Graham’s proposal, he would do away with petitions for brothers and sisters of US citizens (F4) and adult children (F1 and 3). Only family petitions for spouses and minor children would remain (IR and F2A). He said that he wants to focus on getting more skilled workers into the US and reserve family petitions only for spouses and minor children — not for siblings or adult children.
If you are a U.S. citizen, and at least 21 years old, you can petition for your siblings (brothers or sisters) to live in the United States as green card holders (lawful permanent residents). Siblings include children from of at least one common parent. You do not necessarily need to be related to your sibling by blood. The legal definition of sibling includes step-brothers and step-sisters (so long as you were both 18 or under when your parents married, and your parents remained married) and adopted siblings (so long as your sibling – and if applicable, you — were both under age 16 when adopted and meet other legal conditions for a valid adoption).
mmigration laws don’t limit the number of petitions for spouses, minor children and parents of United States citizens. But the government does set thresholds for other kinds of relatives including the siblings and adult and married children of U.S. citizens, and the spouses and children of green-card holders. The annual cap for family visas is currently 226,000.
Because the number of applicants far exceeds the number of available slots, there’s a backlog. Right now there are 4 million people on waiting lists, and it can take years to get off them. According to State Department, the government is only now handling applications for siblings filed in April 2001.
Please note that Sen. Graham’s proposal is just a proposal at this time. We find it hard to imagine that the Government may cancel pending Sibling applications or approved cases waiting in the line. But if this proposal will pass, NO future sibling petitions will be allowed. Our suggestion, file now if you can. This is not a complicated process and getting solid advice from an Immigration Attorney may be very important.
All I can say is that, as we consider comprehensive reform, we must not pit visas for family-based immigrants against those sponsored by employers. We need our families united just as much as we need to work in this country.