September 1, 2008: Filing Petitions For Many Family Members At One Time

Filing Petitions For Many Family Members At One Time

I am sponsoring my dad, my stepmom, and two half sisters (one over 21 and one under). How many petitions should I file? Would filing a different petition for my half sister who is over 21 hurt her chance of coming to the U.S. sooner (because sibling cases take longer)? Also, if I have to petition separately, could I put all of the petitions, checks and one set of documents (like birth certificates, etc.) in one packet or does everything has to be separated?
— Anonymous

Assuming you are a United States citizen and over the age of 21, you are eligible to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of your biological father. If the marriage that created the stepparent relationship occurred prior to you turning 18 years old, then you are eligible to also file a separate I-130 petition on your step mother’s behalf. Both petitions would be considered “immediate relative” petitions. Since it is not a “family sponsored preference” case, they would not have to wait for a visa number to become available. Thus, your father and stepmother can concurrently file with your I-130 petitions their Forms I-485, Application to Adjust Status to Lawful Permanent Resident. If the stepparent relationship occurred after your 18th birthday, then you can only file for your father at this time. Once your father becomes a lawful permanent resident, he could then file for his wife. That filing would place her in the family based second preference category as the spouse of a lawful permanent resident.

Filing for your half siblings is a completely separate matter. From the information you provided, it is unclear whether you and your half sisters share a common parent. To be considered “siblings” under the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”), you must have a common parent and the marriage creating the step relationship must have occurred before the step sibling beneficiary reached the age of 18. If you meet these criteria, then you will be eligible to file an I-130 petition on their behalf to classify them as 4th preference brother/sister of a United States citizen.

If you have further questions about your eligibility to file for your stepmother and/or half siblings, you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney to evaluate your facts and render you a legal opinion.

Michael Shane and Evan Shane, Immigration Attorneys