Mon | Sep 24, 2018

Immigration Corner: When can my husband file for me?

Published:Tuesday | March 31, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

I am the wife of a green-card holder and he wants to start filing for me. He plans on going for his citizenship. Can he do that while sorting out his citizenship, or should he wait?

- SR


Dear SR,

A permanent resident of the United States (US) can file for his or spouse and his or her unmarried son or daughter. The waiting periods for the beneficiaries of green card holder petitioners have traditionally been longer than that of a US citizen.

The spouse or under 21-year-old child of a green card holder is in the F2A category and in April, 2015 persons who were filed for before August 1, 2013 will have visas available to them. The over 21 year old son or daughter of a green card holder is in the F2B category and persons with priority dates earlier than August 22, 2008 will be processed in April, 2015.

Many persons believe that they have to wait until they are US citizens to file for their immediate families and that is not the case. Actually, as soon as a person receives their green card they can file a petition for their relatives who qualify. What this means is that your husband can file for you the moment you marry him as a green card holder and he doesn't have to wait to become a citizen.

Waiting needlessly separates families because it takes five years to become a US citizen and it is only taking 19 months for the spouse of a green card holder to have a visa available. The best course of action is for a green card holder spouse to file for their husband or wife and they will get the green card before their spouse becomes a US citizen. However, if the marriage takes place close to the timing of the spouses citizenship eligibility, once the spouse becomes a US citizen, and if there is a pending green card petition the citizenship will move the beneficiary to that of an immediate relative and move the petition faster. But, it is all about the timing and it will be different for everyone.

- Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal and personal injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida; and an adjunct professor at Miami Dade College's School of Justice.