Now Is the Time for U.S. Citizens to Apply for Brothers and Sisters


We are focusing a lot of attention here at Long Island Wins on the immigration reform bill that Senator Schumer and the Gang of Eight recently introduced. In addition to explaining the bill, I also want to make sure you know how it will affect you and your family. This article examines an overlooked section of the bill.

The proposed immigration law would end the Family-Based immigration visa for the brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, one of the most popular and most backlogged visas. The bill would allow citizens to continue to file for brothers and sisters for 18 months after it is enacted, and then it would close the category forever.

Conservatives have been trying to get rid of this visa category since 1996, and they may finally succeed.

The brothers and sisters that have already been filed for would still be eligible for a “green card.” In fact, because extra visas will be available, instead of waiting the normal 11 to 23 years for a “green card”, the brother or sister will become a permanent resident in only 7 years. In other words, it will really be the best of times and the worst of times for the brothers and sisters of citizens.

If you are a citizen and you want to apply for your brother or sister, you should do so as soon as possible. This will insure that your family member is able to come into the U.S. while the door is still open. It may be closed within 18 months, so don’t delay your application.

If you have been a permanent resident for five years and you want to file for a brother or sister, apply for citizenship immediately. Once you are sworn in, you can apply for your sibling. If you file for citizenship by September of this year, you can likely complete the process before the visa category is terminated.

For more information, contact CARECEN at 516-489-8330 in Nassau or 631-273-8721 in Suffolk.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.

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