There Is Still Time to Petition For Your Siblings

Citizens should file petitions to bring over their siblings as soon as possible.
Citizens should file petitions to bring over their siblings as soon as possible.

The passage of the immigration reform bill by the Senate in June could spell the eventual end of the ability for U.S. Citizens to get “Green Cards,” or permanent residency, for their brothers and sisters. The bill eliminates what is called the “Fourth Preference Category” of family-based immigrants for siblings of Americans. However, there is still plenty of time for citizens, and even those who are still permanent residents, to apply for their brothers and sisters.

If the Senate bill becomes law, citizens will have 18 months to continue filing petitions for their siblings before the application process closes forever. This means that even people who are permanent residents now may be able to obtain their own citizenship and file a Fourth Preference petition before the deadline but they have to act soon.

If you have been a permanent resident for five years (three years if you are married to a United States Citizen), then you may be eligible to apply for citizenship. CARECEN is seeing its citizenship cases going from filing to swearing in as little time as six months. So, if you are a permanent resident, you may still be able to become a citizen quickly enough to successfully apply for a Green Card for your sibling.

Right now CARECEN is offering free help to Long Islanders who want to apply for citizenship. We will offer a free citizenship clinic at the offices of Make the Road at 1090 Suffolk Avenue, Brentwood, NY this Saturday July 27 from 10 AM to 3 PM.

You should bring your Green Card and proof of income or public benefits with you. You can also get free citizenship assistance other days at CARECEN’s offices. Just call CARECEN at 631-273-8721 in Suffolk (2000 Brentwood Road 2nd Floor in Brentwood) or 516-489-8330 in Nassau (91 N. Franklin St. Suite 208 in Hempstead). We accept appointments Monday thru Wednesday.

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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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