specific question is this: in your experience, will it be more difficult for them to be approved for student visas if they have an immigrant-based visa application on file, even one that is unlikely to result in them receiving visas until they are much older, if at all? We do not want to prejudice their ability to get student visas by applying for an immigrant visa that they may never get anyway.
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If you file a petition for your sister the children are not beneficiaries of a direct petition, they as you know would be considered derivative beneficiaries.
It would not be more difficult for the children as derivative beneficiaries who will most probably be aged out to obtain a student visa because a petition is pending for their parent.
That being said, a consular officer has absolute discretion is determining intent to return and if they want to be unreasonable in making a finding that a pending petition for the parent reflects on the child's intent to return and makes them an intending immigrant, that risk does exist and is totally out of anyone's control other than not having a petition on file.
However, that would lack of petition would still not guarantee a visa being issued. There are no guarantees.
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