For several years, the spouses and children of green-card holders faced a three- to five-year wait to receive an F2A green card based on the Visa Bulletin posted monthly by the Department of State. In a dramatic shift, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is now processing F2A green card petitions submitted by those currently living in the U.S. That means those individuals now only face a one- to two-year wait time for their F2A.
In a surprising turn, the July Visa Bulletin listed the final action date for F2A beneficiaries—a green card holder’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21—from all countries as “current.” That means green card numbers are available. Moreover, individuals living in the U.S. can immediately petition for an F2A green card and travel document. Spouses can also file for employment authorization (a work permit).
Founding partner Sophie Alcorn and I created a short video about the F2A news. We offer examples, more detail, and recommendations about the filing process for F2A green cards:
Take Action Now
According to the Visa Bulletin, the final action date for the F2A category is expected to remain current through the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30. However, if you’re eligible, we recommend you file for an F2A as soon as possible this month.
Each fiscal year, F2A green cards are capped at nearly 88,000. Surprisingly, the number of F2A petitions submitted has fallen short of the cap so far this fiscal year. So, the Department of State, which publishes the Visa Bulletin, shifted the F2A to current to increase demand. The Bulletin states that “currently there are not enough applicants who are actively pursuing final action on their case to fully utilize all of the available numbers under the annual limit.”
Beneficiaries of all other family-based green cards—except those for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens—must continue to wait. No cap exists on the number of green cards available for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. Therefore, the spouses, parents, and unmarried children under the age of 21 of U.S. citizens can apply for a green card as soon as USCIS approves their sponsor’s Form I-130.
Living Outside the U.S.
Even though the final action date for F2A green cards is current, the F2A date for filing remains March 8, 2019. That means only those F2A applicants who are living outside of the U.S. and whose sponsor submitted Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) to USCIS on or before that date should submit their Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status).
The reason for maintaining the date of filing while making the final action date current was to avoid opening the floodgates to F2A consular filings. That’s according to Charles Oppenheim, the chief of the Department of State’s Visa Control and Reporting Division. Oppenheim provides the American Immigration Lawyers Association with monthly predictions and analysis of the Visa Bulletin.
What to Expect
While the Bulletin expects that the current status for F2A green cards will continue through Sept. 30, it warned that current status would not continue indefinitely, However, it did not indicate when that could change.
The Alcorn Immigration Law team stands ready to help you through the F2A process. We can also help you determine other visa or green card options that fit your situation. Please reach out to us if we can help. Mention the video above for a free consultation.