I didn’t know!

IMMIGRATION CORNER - Michael J. Gurfinkel - The Philippine Star

Recently, a woman consulted with me about options for her unmarried sister in the Philippines to immigrate to the US faster. In discussing the facts of the case with her, I saw there were so many missed opportunities the family overlooked, and had they been aware, the sister would’ve been in the US years ago. Each time I pointed out a missed opportunity, she was surprised and deflated and commented, “I didn’t know.”

In her particular case, her 93-year-old US citizen mother had just petitioned the sister in 2021. She asked if there was any way to “expedite” visa processing, as the mother was sickly, ailing and obviously very old. Unfortunately, the answer was “no.” The petition could not be expedited unless and until the priority date was current (or a visa was available). Right now, unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens with priority dates of 2012 are being processed. Therefore, if this petition was filed in 2021, there are still years to go, and the case cannot be expedited.

However, there were so many other missed opportunities to bring the sister to the US years ago:

• This woman became a US citizen in 2000. Had she filed a sister-to-sister petition (F4) right after becoming a US citizen, her sister would’ve been in the US by now, as they are already processing brother/sisters of US citizens who were petitioned in 2002.

• Since the sister in the Philippines was “unmarried,” the mother could have petitioned her as soon as she received her green card in category F-2B. The mother did not have to wait to become a citizen in order to petition her unmarried child, even if the child was over 21 years of age. Instead, years were lost while the family delayed filing the petition.

• The elderly mother also waited years after naturalizing before finally filing the F1 petition. If a person can file a petition, they should do so right away, versus waiting years and years “thinking about it.”

• Even if a person is under petition through a family member, they could also be petitioned for an employment-based visa. In fact, family members can petition other family members for an employment-based visa, such as a caregiver for an elderly parent.

• A person may be petitioned for a green card in as many different ways as are legally available, all at the same time! This means a person could be petitioned by a brother or sister, parent, employer, etc. all at the same time, and they can obtain their green card through whichever avenue comes first. In fact, the only time I can think of when multiple petitions may be suspicious is if a person has several K-1 fiancée visas from different suitors. Other than that, if a person is petitioned by a sibling or a parent and the waiting time is so long, there’s nothing that prevents them from also being petitioned by an employer, which is typically faster.

Immigration may sound simple and straightforward, or people may listen to gossip at parties or barbecues and accept that as the truth. Rather than guessing, being in the dark, or following the wrong advice, I would suggest you consult with an attorney immediately about any immigration questions, options or issues you may have about your case or family member’s case, so you don’t wind up saying, “I didn’t know.”

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WEBSITE: www.gurfinkel.com

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