Family/Marriage GREEN CARD Petitions in the US
April 6th, 2014
If you are a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR), now is a good time to file a petition for your spouse and/or minor children (under 21 years of age). It is possible that you thought that it was better to wait to become a U.S. citizen before you could petition for your spouse and minor children to come to the U.S. quickly with “green cards” or obtain residency, but that is no longer the case. As of August 2013, the visa “priority date” for the family based category F2A, which covers spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents, will be “current”, meaning there will be no long wait times and family members in this category can be re-united promptly if their visa petition I-130 has been approved (read below for further explanation of what a “priority date” is and what it means for it to be “current”).
The wait time for immigrant visas for these family members was 2 years or more, as recently as of May 2013, and it was 3 years back in July 2011. Now the waiting time to process these green cards has been eliminated for August 2013 (see Visa Bulletin for August 2013 here). We hope that this opportunity will be extended beyond August 2013, however, there is no way of knowing how long this will last, and we know this can change any time in the future as we have seen it happen in the past.
Therefore, if you are a legal permanent resident and you have an I-130 (petition for alien relative) approved for either a spouse or minor child, you may be eligible to begin the final legal steps to have your family members join you and we urge you to contact our office as soon as possible to take advantage of this opportunity. Likewise, if you do not have an approved I-130, it is important to file the I-130 petition promptly as these petitions take approximately 8-16 months to be approved. If you believe you qualify for this or any legal immigration process, please call our office right away, as it is always recommended to act quickly in order to get in line as early as possible. This is generally beneficial for you and your family. For an appointment, please call 617-523-6320 (ext.0) and we will be glad to help you. If you know other Legal Permanent Residents who can take advantage of this change in processing times, please let them know, and forward this newsletter to all who you may think can benefit from it.
What is the “priority date” of my application and how can I find out if it is “current”?
The priority date is the date your initial immigrant visa petition was filed. The USCIS processes applications in the order in which they are received, so by looking at what priority date the government is working on right now or the “current” date, we can estimate where your case sits in line. The priority dates are published in the Visa Bulletin at: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin.html. Each month the Visa Bulletin is updated to reflect the priority dates “current” for that specific month. The Visa Bulletin also explains the different categories of filings. For example F4 for siblings of US Citizens, etc.
It is important to note that there is a different amount of green cards available each year for each category—for example there are more green cards available for children of U.S. residents than for siblings of U.S. citizens). To understand this better, we will use the example of petitions filed for siblings of US citizens, which fall in category F4. If you filed an I-130 for your brother in September 5, 2001, you need to review the published date in the Visa Bulletin to determine whether the priority date is “current”. As of August 2013, the published date in the Visa Bulletin is June 22, 2001. This means that your priority date (September 5, 2001) is not current and you will need to wait until the published date is either September 5 2001, or any date after September 5, 2001. Dates published that are before your priority date, are not current. If you review the Visa Bulletin for August 2013 again, you will see that for the category F2A (for spouses or minor children of US residents), you will see that there is no date next to it, but just the word “current”. This means that the visas for this category are currently available and there is no wait time. The actual published priority dates can change each month; therefore, it is a good idea to check the Visa Bulletin regularly if you have an immigrant visa application pending.
Important news [September 2013]: the priority dates which were current for Family based green cards for the F2A category (for spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents) will retrogress a month in October 2013 and it is possible that this trend may continue. This is a reminder that this window of opportunity may not last long and any legal permanent resident that has an approved I-130 for a spouse or minor child should apply for the green card as soon as possible.