VIDEO: The trouble with brother and sister visas

Long-delayed visa applications for brothers and sisters are being denied – this video explains why.

Why is my green card application for my brother or sister overseas taking such a long time and what are some of the problems that are associated with these kinds of cases? Hi I’m Jim Hacking immigration attorney practicing law here in St. Louis, Missouri. We’ve been seeing a big uptick in problems with brother and sister visas lately. I wanted to talk to you about it today on this video.

Here’s the deal a US citizen decides to sponsor let’s say his brother and his brother lives back home in Pakistan. They know and they have proof that they are indeed brothers. The problem is the immigration service is really starting to push back on these types of petitions. Now keep in mind these cases take a very long time. Congress has placed a cap on the number of brothers and sisters that can come from overseas and this has led to a very large backlog in available visas.

For most countries, that backlog is currently around twelve or thirteen years. From other countries, like Philippines and Mexico it can be up to twenty years. There’s a real backlog on the number of visas available. That means that even if people’s cases are approved, there’s no way for them to come to the United States at this time or to stay in the United States if they already have an approved case. This is how the process works, typically you file an I-130 application for you brother or sister and then you wait a very long time.

Now CIS, does have a backlog and they know that visas aren’t available for thirteen years. What we’ve been seeing lately is that people are not hearing back from CIS other than to get the receipt notice for any action on their case for about four years. It’s been a real problem lately because these cases sit for four or five years, sometimes the US citizen sponsor and neglects to update their address with immigration service, so that’s one real problem we’ve been seeing is that the immigrate service can’t find the US citizen once it comes time to look at their particular.

The bigger problem that we’ve been seeing lately is that CIS is really pushing back on birth certificates and proof of the brother or sister relationship. Now when you want to sponsor your brother, you know that they’re your brother. You know that you were born in the same house to the same parents or the same hospital. You don’t give much thought to having to prove that this person is in fact your brother or your sister.

Well immigration service and the state department uses what are called reciprocity tables which is a list of the types of documents that a country has available to demonstrate identity or birth certificates or marriage or those kinds of things. We use these reciprocity tables to see what documents we need to prove the relationship. Lately, we’ve been seeing a lot of push back and immigration service has been issuing a lot of what are called requests for evidence.

It’s ironic. Your case will sit for four or five years and then all of the sudden immigration finally picks your case off the top of the pile and begins to look at it. Once they look at it, if you haven’t submitted ironclad proof that your brother is your brother or your sister is your sister, you’re going to get a request for evidence. In that request for evidence, you’re going to have probably eighty-seven days to demonstrate that this person is in fact your brother or your sister. Now this can be problematic especially for older people because back in a lot of home countries, there isn’t very good record keeping. There isn’t the kind of record keeping we keep here.

I was born in St. Louis, so if I want to get my birth certificate I just go to the county records department and get a copy of my birth certificate. It’s not so easy back home in a lot of countries. We’ve been having people come to see up right before those eighty-seven days are up, right before their request for evidence is due and they’re forced to come up with proof and a lot of times they can’t. These cases are being denied and people are losing their priority date. Remember the priority date is the date that your case was obviously deemed filed.

A lot of times if your cases has been pending for three or four years, you have to go to the back of the line and you lose that priority date because you weren’t able in those eighty-seven days to scramble and get the evidence that you need for your brother or sister. This is a real problem. Another problem is that the immigration service won’t accept DNA evidence of a brother and a sister unless the parents are alive.

In other words, they won’t compare DNA of a brother and a sister and say in and of itself that establishes the relationship. You need to establish the relationship between the mother and father of both the brother and sister, hopefully that makes sense, but basically you’re going to need your parents alive in order to establish through DNA that you and your brother or you and your sister are in fact related. These cases [they’ve 00:04:57] really become problematic.

We think that the state department is being selective and somewhat abusive in the way that the reciprocity tables are created and maintained. We also think that it’s been very difficult for a lot of our clients to get the documentation. The further back in time you go the less documentation there is. We’ve really been seeing a problem here. We are working our way through it trying to establish at the beginning that the brother and the sister are in fact related.

That’s the key because you have all the time in the world to file. You have all the time in the world to establish whatever documentation you can. You have to do your very best to gather all of your documents, but if you wait until that request for evidence comes you’re really going to be hamstrung because you’re only going to have two or three months and this involves getting records from overseas. The general birth certificate might not just be enough.

If you have any questions about sponsoring your brother or sponsoring your sister for a green card and you want our help or want to ask us those questions, give us a call 314-961-8200 or you can check us out on the web at www.hackinglawpractice.com. Thanks.