The immigration process has a reputation for having long processing times. Depending on the type of visa, it could take several months to years for a case to be adjudicated. When it comes to sponsoring siblings, it can take even longer — 15 years and more. This is because of the Visa Bulletin, which dictates the timeframes involved in issuing U.S. immigrant visas.

The Visa Bulletin Case Timeframes

As of June 2022, the Visa Bulletin’s F4 visa category for sponsoring siblings says that the visas filed on the 22nd of March 2007 are now being issued. That was almost 16 years ago. For those coming from India, the visas being issued date back to cases filed in 2005, and for Mexico nationals, dating back to the year 2000.

Because of the Visa Bulletin, the average wait time to sponsor a sibling is 15 years, sometimes, even more, depending on the country of origin.

Can Siblings Visit the U.S. While Their Visas are Pending?

Because sponsoring a sibling to live in the U.S. can take decades, petitioners are wondering if, if, during this time, their siblings can still come to visit them in the U.S.

They may be able to receive a visitor’s visa for this purpose, provided they go through the visitor’s visa interview, observe the maximum period of stay, and the case is approved by the State Department.

Pass the Visitor Visa Interview

During the course of the process of getting a visitor’s visa, the siblings will have to attend and pass an interview with immigration. Because they have a pending immigrant petition, immigration will be asking all the tough questions to determine if they are indeed only visiting and will return to their home country.

If immigration thinks that they are using the visitor’s visa as a front to permanently stay in the U.S., they will not approve the visitor’s visa. So even if a U.S. citizen sends them an invitation letter to come to the U.S., there’s no guarantee that the visitor’s visa will be given.

Be Aware of the Maximum Stay

A person coming to visit the U.S. is only allowed to stay for a maximum of 6 months. If they remain in the U.S. after that limit, they will be taken out of status.

With a visitor’s visa, siblings will need to go home before their maximum stay expires unless they are in an authorized visit by the CBP or State Department with the proper visa for the proper amount of time.

Inviting siblings to visit the U.S. on a visitor’s visa is not a way to get them to the U.S. while waiting on the immigrant visa petition to be approved. This is not allowed by the Immigration Service and can result in dire consequences.