July 10, 2013
Each month, the Department of State (DOS) publishes a Visa Bulletin listing the cut-off priority date for each of the various family and employment-based immigration categories. The most recently issued Visa Bulletin, effective August 1, 2013, sheds great hope to many struggling to legalize their status in the United States and/or be reunited with long separated family members.
The cut-off priority date listed on the August 2013 Visa Bulletin for the F2A family-based category is “C”, or Current. Therefore, starting August 1, there will be absolutely no waiting list for the F2A category. Relative petitions are classified under the F2A category when the petitioner is a green card holder and the beneficiary is a spouse or unmarried child under age 21.
For those outside the US, this means that the Embassy can proceed with the processing of the immigrant visa for those in the F2A category immediately upon approval of the I-130 Relative Petition. This will reduce the processing time for issuance of the immigrant visa significantly.
For those already in the US, it will allow certain individuals eligible for F2A classification to file for adjustment of status, along with a work permit and advance parole travel document. Eligible individuals will be those who are still in valid lawful status, such as a B-2 tourist, F-1 student, H-1B work, or other nonimmigrant visa. Other eligible individuals will be those grandfathered under INA §245(i).
To be grandfathered under INA §245(i), an individual must have been a primary or derivative beneficiary of a family or employment-based petition filed on or before April 30, 2001, and the primary beneficiary must have been physically present in the US on December 21, 2000. If the family or employment-based petition was filed on or before January 14, 1998, however, then the physical presence requirement does not apply.
The DOS predicts that the F2A category will remain current for several months. It will, in all likelihood, retrogress at some point so that there will once again be some type of waiting list. Once this occurs, the ability to immediately file for adjustment of status, work permit, and advance parole will no longer be available. Individuals must therefore ensure that they capitalize on this rare opportunity.