Movement on the Visa Bulletin Alert
“How long would it take for my relative to obtain a green card?” is a common question that immigration lawyers face. It is one of the questions that immigration lawyers can never answer with a degree of certainty. The reason, we are all told, is that wait times vary on a case by case basis, and also depend on the priority date table, and the processing times at any given point in time. An excellent example of it is the recent sudden movement in the F2A category of the visa bulletin.
What is the F2A Category?
The F2A category is for spouses and children of LPRs, also called, Legal Permanent Residents, or green card holders. Spouses and minor children of US citizens are considered “Immediate Relatives” and do not have quotas on the numbers of green cards available annually. All other family based immigration categories do have quotas, and these quotas are often a cause of a delay in entry or admission of the relative. These quotas get tracked using the “Visa Bulletin” which shows the filing dates (or priority dates) of cases being processed in each category every month. This visa bulletin is updated monthly.
This category showed that this month, in July 2013, cases were being processed in September or October of 2011, depending on the country of birth of the intending immigrant. For the upcoming month, in August 2013, the category is current for all countries!
What is the effect of having an F2A category as current?
This is great news for anyone who wants to apply for a spouse or child under 21 as a green card holder. It means that there is no waiting for the priority date to come current. The priority date is already current and the only waiting period is related to the processing time. It also means that those who are here in the US and otherwise qualify, can apply for adjustment of status concurrently with their I-130.
Moreover, spouses and children of green card holders are allowed to have dependents, whereas spouses and children of US Citizens, considered to be immediate relatives, are not permitted to have dependents on their application. In a sense, this is an advantage over the US citizen petitioners. For example, if Adam is a green card holder, and applies for Maggie, and Maggie has a minor child of her own, Adam can apply for both in a single petition. On the other hand, if Adam were a US Citizen, Adam would have to file a petition for Maggie, and a separate one for the child as a step-parent, if he qualified as a step-parent.
This illustrates how important it is to keep abreast of the priority dates on the visa bulletin and how difficult it is to predict the pace of movement of the visa bulletin priority dates without more information.
If you are a green card holder and have filed for a spouse or child under 21, and your application is pending, contact an immigration attorney to determine if your relative qualifies for an immediate adjustment of status or needs help in ensuring that he or she is scheduled at the consulate without delay. Note that processing time is still required.