Fri | Dec 6, 2019

Immigration Corner | Shedding some light on the F1 visa issue

Published:Tuesday | January 15, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Dahlia Walker-Huntington

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

A pleasant new year to you and your family. I am a 29-year-old resident of Jamaica. Sometime in mid-2016, my mother, who is a citizen of the United States filed a petition for me to migrate. My understanding is that I would fall into the F1 visa category.

I did some reading into the matter and saw that F2B is two years ahead of F1, but I fail to understand how can a lawful permanent resident's petition be faster than one of a citizen?

I would really appreciate if you could shed some light on the query and if you could be so kind as to educate me on the F1 priority date, in the event I am incorrect in my understanding.

Your kind response is anticipated.


Dear OW,

Happy New Year to you and all the readers.

With the exception of immediate relatives (spouses and minor children of US citizens and parents of American citizens), all beneficiaries of green card petitions are assigned to various preference categories. Immediate relatives have unlimited visas and are processed as soon as possible. Each year a finite number of visas are available for people in the preference categories, e.g., 23,400 visas are available for the F1 visa category - unmarried, over 21-year-old son/daughter of a US citizen; and basically, 26,266 visas are available in the F2B category for the year October 1, 2018-September 30, 2019.

Regularly, spouses and minor children of green card holders (F2A) have the shortest waiting time, followed by the unmarried, adult son/daughter of US citizens (F1), then adult son/daughter of green card holders (F2B), then married adult son/daughter of US citizens (F3) and lastly by the siblings of US citizens (F4). The waiting period in each category is determined by the number of people waiting for visas in each category, divided by the number of visas available in each category. You are correct that as an over 21-year-old son of an American citizen, you are in the F1 visa preference category. You are also correct that the visa bulletin for January, 2019 indicates that the F2B category (adult son/daughter of a green card holder) is being processed ahead of the US citizen category. The bulletin indicates that visas are available in the F2B category for persons with priority dates earlier than March 15, 2012 and that in the F1 category, the priority date is August 22, 2011. This is highly unusual but entirely possible if the number of persons waiting in the F2B category allows for this anomaly.

You will have to be governed by the visa bulletin and your preference category before a visa will become available in your case.

- Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington, Esq, is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal and international law in Florida. She is a mediator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida. Email: