Fri | Aug 14, 2020

Immigration Corner | Can a brother file for his sibling?

Published:Tuesday | December 3, 2019 | 12:32 AM
Dahlia Walker-Huntington
Dahlia Walker-Huntington

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

I just recently found my brother who lives in the United States (US). I am 34 years old and he is 50. We have never met because my dad kept me hidden from him until I used social media to locate my father and found out that I have a brother.

My brother sent me an invitation letter which I took to the US Embassy. They never even asked me for it, but turned me down for the visa. What I would like to know is, can siblings file for their siblings and how long would it take. Thank you in advance for your advice.


Dear LA

Happy to hear that you've found your family. We all have different family backgrounds and life experiences and some families are not traditional. In your situation, it appears that you share your father but have different mothers. Also, I am not sure why your father hid you from your brother and it appears your father was not in your life either. Sometimes we see children who are not born into a main relationship, i.e., father may be married to someone else or is living with another woman and has a secret relationship that bears a child. For expediency, the child (the outside child) is kept hidden from their siblings. Other times, we see a child born to a young mother who is hidden or a child fathered by a man who is not approved by the mother’s family and the man does not even know he has fathered a child.

Unknown also is whether your father was listed on your birth certificate, and if yes, when; and whether he is also listed on your brother’s birth certificate.

Siblings of US citizens can indeed be petitioned to migrate to the United States. However, it is the longest waiting category (F4) and it is currently taking approximately 12 1/2 years to an interview. During the filing process, the siblings will have to prove they have a biological relationship, that they in fact share a parent. It would probably be in your best interest for you and your brother to each submit to a private DNA test to prove that you are biologically related either before or shortly after beginning the filing process. If in fact you are siblings, that is one hurdle that you will have to demonstrate to the US government. The second hurdle might be whether you have had a sibling relationship all your lives. Since you have not, you may have to explain your unique family situation that resulted in your both not being aware of each other for 30 plus years.

In a situation like yours, is not impossible to secure US residency, but it will be filled with its own set of challenges.

Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington, Esq. is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal and international law in Florida. She is a mediator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida.