Jamaica Magazine

Immigration: Questions and Answers on Immigration Reform: Impact on Family-Based Petitions for Siblings

Once again immigration reform is currently being debated.  Currently the bill that was introduced in the Senate Judiciary Committee has received enough votes to pass in the Senate. The Senate’s bill has now been sent to the House of Representatives for their vote. Currently, the House is proposing and debating amendments to the bill. If the House and Senate bills are not the same, the two bills will be worked on in a “conference committee” to settle any differences in the bill, and the bill will be sent back to both the House and Senate for final votes. Finally, the bill will be sent to the President to be signed into law. If the President signs the bill, regulations must be written to implement the bill. While we understand that immigration reform has not yet become the law we have received numerous questions about immigration reform. Recently our firm received an inquiry about the possible effect of the proposed immigration reform on sibling petitions. We will discuss this issue in this month’s article.

Question 1: What will happen to sibling petition once immigration reform  is passed. Will I  still be able to apply for my sister?

Answer: Under the current immigration law United States citizens are permitted to file for their sisters and brothers. Normally the processing time for sibling petitions averages anywhere from 8-10 years. Based on the Senate’s bill on immigration reform, family-based immigration for siblings will be eliminated 18 months after the bill is passed. As such, if the House of Representatives keeps this portion of the immigration reform bill and it becomes law United States citizens will lose their ability to sponsor their siblings for permanent residence, i.e., “green card.”

Question 2: I have already filed and received an approval on my I-130 petition for my sibling. However my sister’s priority date is not yet current and so she is unable to apply for her permanent residence right now. What will happen to my sister’s case if immigration reform is passed and sibling petition category is eliminated?

Answer: In general Immigration has always allowed pre-existing approved petitions to be processed in light of new changes in the law. Based on this I have assumed that Immigration will follow this procedure. However, we will not know for certain until the U.S Government passes the immigration reform and makes the announcement that Immigration will process these pre-existing approved cases.

Question 3: I am a United States citizen and my sister  lives in Jamaica. I would like to sponsor her for her permanent residence i.e., “green card”, but I heard that Immigration is going to eliminate this category. Should I even bother applying for my sister?

Answer: In the past Immigration has always processed pre-existing cases despite the fact that the new law no longer provides these immigration benefits. Their reasoning behind this is that the applicant applied and received an approval while the law allowed that individual to apply for his or her immigration benefits. In addition, the applicant has invested his or her time and paid the immigration filing fees to Immigration for his or her case. Consequently, it would be unfair and unjust not permit the applicant to complete his or her immigration case, despite the change in the law.  Therefore, based on the current immigration law if you are eligible to apply for your sister you should do so as soon as possible to preserve your sister’s immigration benefits.  Immigration reform could be passed at anytime. Therefore, the longer you wait to file your immigration petition the more likely it is that you will not be able to sponsor your sister.

The Byars Firm is a law firm of immigrants. We are dedicated to proving accurate legal advice to the immigrant community so that they can make the best decisions for their families, their work, and their lives. If you have questions about the proposed immigration reform our firm is available to speak with you at no cost. Please call 678-736-5600 or send us an email at [email protected]. Visit our website at www.byarslawgroup.com.

Disclaimer: This article is a broad overview of various immigration issues. This article is not legal advice and should not be taken as legal advice. This article is provided as a public service and is not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship. Any reliance on the information contained herein is taken at your own risk. The information provided in this article should never replace informed counsel when specific immigration-related guidance is needed. 


About the Writer:
Safiya Byars is the founder and senior partner of the Byars Firm, Inc. She is a native of Kingston, Jamaica.  Attorney Byars shows her clients the best ways to get their cases approved the FIRST time while reducing processing times and avoiding immigration red flags that result in delays, denials, and deportation.  The Byars Firm is located at 3720 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Suite D2, Chamblee, Georgia 30341. Attorney Byars handles all immigration matters, deportation defense, family law, and criminal issues. Attorney Byars can be reached at 678-736-5600, 404-992-6506 or via email at [email protected]  and www.byarslawgroup.com.


About the author

Safiya Byars, Esq

Safiya Byars is the founder and senior partner of the Byars Firm. Attorney Byars serves as the Chair of the Family Immigration Continuing Learning Education and the Vice-Chair of the Immigration Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia. She is a native of Kingston, Jamaica. The Byars firm is located at 3720 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Suite D2, Chamblee, Georgia 30341. The Byars Firm handles Immigration, Family, and Estate Planning matters. We can be reached at 678-736-5600 and email: [email protected].