Family-Based Green Card Petitions For Non Immediate Family Members And A Priority Date That Is Not Current
U.S. citizens sponsoring a foreign spouse, parent, or unmarried child under 21 usually get green cards approved because the beneficiaries are classified as immediate relatives and their Priority Dates are always current. But what happens when you are sponsoring other family members? In addition to the aforementioned immediate relatives, U.S. citizens can also sponsor siblings as well as sons and daughters over 21. Permanent residents (green card holders) can sponsor spouses, children under 21, and unmarried sons and daughters over 21. The first step in sponsoring a non-immediate relative is for the U.S. citizen to file a petition, which sets the Priority Date. Once the petition is approved, the petitioner or beneficiary should monitor the Visa Bulletin, which is updated every month. Once the Priority Date becomes “current,” the beneficiary will be able to apply for a green card either through adjustment of status or at the consulate in Montreal. Example: Assume that Henry, a U.S. permanent resident, filed a petition to sponsor his wife Wendy, an Indian citizen, on August 15, 2015. This means that the Priority Date is August 15, 2015. The petition was approved and they monitor the Visa Bulletin on a regular basis. The family-based category is “F2A” (spouse of a permanent resident) and Wendy’s country of chargeability is India. Based on this, they can see that Priority Date for them is not yet current. When the Visa Bulletin finally shows 15AUG15 (August 15, 2015) for her category, Wendy can then apply for her green card either through adjustment of status if she is in the United States at that time, or through the U.S. consulate in her home country. The process can be analogized to the experience of going to a very busy butcher shop. Filing the petition is the first step – it’s like taking a number and waiting your turn. The Priority Date becomes current when the butcher calls out your number and asks for your order. At that time, you can “order” your green card and take it to go!