A new client, “Jose”, came into my office recently and said he wanted to petition for his sister, “Maria”, who was almost 20 years old and about to turn 21 years of age in six months. Jose had become a naturalized U.S. Citizen about five years ago. So, we have a brother who is a U.S. Citizen, who wants to petition for his sister, a Honduran Citizen, so she can one day become a Lawful Permanent Resident of the U.S.
When a person comes into my office about petitioning for his sibling, I have to break the bad news to him that petitioning for a sibling can take a very long time. In this case, it would take approximately 14 years for this visa to become available for his sister according to the current Visa Bulletin. The Visa Bulletin is issued monthly by the Department of State and shows the number of visas available worldwide for each country.
Jose was shocked at our initial consultation when I told him it would take 14 years, as all people are, when they find out that it takes that long. After gathering more information from him, I found out that Jose had petitioned for his dad, “Alberto”, as soon as he got his U.S. Citizenship, and his dad immigrated to the United States four years ago. So, dad, Alberto is a Lawful Permanent Resident.
When I found out Alberto was here as a green card holder, my immediate question to Jose was, “why didn’t your dad petition for Maria?” His response: we didn’t know he could do that.
Why am I yelling right now? (I’m sorry that I am, but I was a little bit sick to my stomach during the consultation). The reason is because what Jose didn’t know about immigration law will delay his sister’s arrival to the U.S. as a Lawful Permanent Resident by many, many years.
Well, once Jose’s dad, Alberto, arrived to the U.S. on an immigrant visa/green card holder four years ago, he could have petitioned for his daughter, Maria, who at that point was only 16 years old. That is important because when a parent petitions a child under 21 years of age, the visa is available on average in about two years. Two years as compared to 14 years, that’s a big difference!
So, after Jose was done shaking his head in dismay after finding out about this, I told him that instead of petitioning for his sister, his dad should petition for her. Jose was excited that it would take only two years, but there’s an evil twist. Because Maria will turn 21 in six months, it will take much longer for her dad to petition for her than if she were under 21. It will take approximately 7 years instead of two years. It’s still way better than 14 years though (the time it would take for Maria to come to the U.S. had brother Jose petitioned for her and not her dad).
Are you confused? Immigration law is confusing, it’s true. But an immigration attorney can sort it all out for you during a consultation just like we did for Jose, Alberto and Maria. The information you can get from a consultation like this may not what you want to hear, but you do have to hear it so you get and stay on the right path. Good luck on your immigration journey, and please, please, go talk to a professional about your case (even if it’s not me) so you don’t make these same mistakes.