Do I need a lawyer to expedite my filing?

Published: Wednesday | December 4, 2013 Comments 0
Dahlia Walker-Huntington
Dahlia Walker-Huntington

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

My parents and I were filed for by my (half) brother in May 2005, when I was 17 years old. In approximately one year, my parents were approved and they migrated. They were initially of the impression that I would have migrated with them since I was under 21, but no documents came for me.

I viewed the visa bulletin last month and noticed that for my preference category (F4), they are currently working on applicants on or before August 2001. Is there any way for the process to be expedited? For example, employing the aid of a lawyer or by having my parents (who are now citizens) file for me.

- S.G.

Dear S.G.,

When a son files a petition for alien relative for a parent, he files only for the parent. If there are siblings, the son has to file a separate petition for them - it is not automatic.

Many persons are confused with the filing process because in some instances, children are derivative beneficiaries of their parents' petition. For example, if a mother files for her son or daughter, and they have children (the petitioner's grandchildren), those children are entitled to derivative status and would be added to the filing during the consular processing phase of the application. However, where there is a category for the intended relative such as a sibling (F4 Preference Category), a separate petition needs to be filed for that relative.

In your instance, if your brother did not file a separate petition for you in 2005, there would be nothing pending for you in the system. Whether or not he filed a petition on your behalf is critical, as you would have waited eight years in vain. By my calculation, you are now 25 years old, and if one of your parents files a petition for you, it is currently taking seven years if they are a citizen (if you are unmarried). In this situation, a lawyer would not be able to expedite the process, but they would ensure accuracy in the filing process and had your brother or your parents hired a lawyer initially, the family would be together in the United States long ago.

Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal and personal injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida. Email: info@walkerhuntington.com

 

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