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Family-Based Green Cards

Policy Memo on Handling Certain Family-Based Automatic Conversion and Priority Date Retention Requests Pending a Supreme Court Ruling

This policy memorandum (PM) provides guidance for properly assigning priority dates in those instances where a petitioner requests that the priority date from a separate, previously filed petition, be applied to a later filed family-based second-preference “B” petition (F2B) or seeks adjustment of status in the F2B category, based upon an originally-filed family-based second-preference “A” petition (F2A) pursuant to Public Law 107-208, the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA). This guidance is limited in scope to individuals who were beneficiaries or derivative beneficiaries of an F2A petition if either new F2B petitions are filed on their behalf by the same petitioner or they are seeking to adjust status in the F2B category pursuant to the CSPA based upon previously qualifying as derivative beneficiaries of an F2A petition.

For detailed information on this memo please click the attachment.

Consular Processing

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) offers an individual two primary paths to permanent resident status (a green card). An individual who is the beneficiary of an approved immigrant petition and has an immigrant visa number immediately available may apply at a U.S. Department of State consulate abroad for an immigrant visa in order to come to the United States and be admitted as a permanent resident. This pathway is referred to as “consular processing.” 

Adjustment of status is an alternate process by which an eligible person, who is already in the United States, can apply for permanent resident status without having to return to his/her home country to complete processing. For more information, see our Adjustment of Status& page .

Steps for Consular Processing

1. Determine Your Basis to Immigrate

The first step in consular processing is to determine if you fit into a specific immigrant category. Most immigrants become eligible for a green card (permanent residence) through a petition filed on your behalf by a family member or employer.  Others become permanent residents through first obtaining refugee or asylum status, or through a number of other special provisions.  To see the many different ways to get a green card, see the links to the left. 

2. File the Immigrant Petition

When you know what category you believe best fits your situation, in most cases, you will need to have an immigrant petition filed on your behalf.

  • Family Based

Family based categories require that a U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative file a Form I-130,, Petition for Alien Relative, for you. For more information, see our Family& page.

  • Employment Based

Employment based categories most often require the intending U.S. employer to file a Form I-140,& Petition for Alien Worker, for you.  Entrepreneurs who intend to invest significant amounts of capital into a business venture in the United States may file Form I-526,, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur” on their own behalf. For more information, see Working in the U.S.&nbbsp;page.

  • Special Classes of Immigrants

In some cases, certain immigrants may file a Form I-360, PPetition for Amerasian, Widow(er), and Special Immigrant, or have one filed on their behalf.

  • Humanitarian Programs

Most humanitarian programs do not require an underlying petition, although individuals may need to meet additional requirements before they can adjust status. For more information, see Humanitarian&nbbsp;page.

Although immigrant petitions are filed with USCIS, In some cases, an I-130 petition may be filed for an immediate relative (spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen) with a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Situations where this may be applicable include:</p>

  • If the U.S. citizen has been authorized to be continuously residing within the jurisdiction of the consular office for at least the previous 6 months
  • Members of the military
  • Emergency situations
  • Situations involving the health or safety of the petitioner
  • When in the national interests of the United States

Please check with the consulate before submitting a petition.  For more information, see the U.S. Department of State&nbbsp;website.  

3. Wait for a Decision on Your Petition

USCIS notifies the petitioner of a decision.  If the petition is denied, the notice will include the reasons for denying the petition and any rights to appeal the decision.  If the petition is approved and if you are the beneficiary of the petition and living outside the United States or living in the United States, but choose to apply for your immigrant visa abroad, USCIS will then send the approved petition to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC), where it will remain until an immigrant visa number is available. See Visa Availability & Priority Dates p;pages for more information. 

4. Wait for Notification from the National Visa Center

The National Visa Center, which is responsible for the collection of visa application fees and supporting documentation, will notify the petitioner and beneficiary when the visa petition is received and again when an immigrant visa number is about to become available. They will also notify the petitioner and beneficiary of when they must submit immigrant visa processing fees (commonly referred to as “fee bills”) and when supporting documentation must be submitted. 

5. Go to Your Appointment

Once a visa is available or a beneficiary’s priority date is current (earlier than the cut-off date listed in the monthly Visa Bulletin),the consular office will schedule the applicant for an interview. The consular office will complete processing of the applicant’s case and decide if the beneficiary is eligible for an immigrant visa.

6. Notify the National Visa Center of Any Changes

You do not need to contact the National Visa Center about your petition, they will contact you for the information they need.  You should, however, contact the NVC if there is a change in your personal situation or if you change your address. For NVC contact information, see the “NVC Contact Information” link to the right. It is important to notify the NVC if you reach the age of 21 for a child or have a change in your marital status, as this may affect your eligibility or visa availability.

7. After Your Visa is Granted

If you are granted an immigrant visa, the consular officer will give you a packet of information.  This packet is known as a “Visa Packet.”  You should not open this packet. 

Upon your arrival to the United States, you should give your Visa Packet to the Customs and Border Protection officer at the port of entry. You will be inspected by a Customs and Border Protection officer and if found admissible, will be admitted as a permanent resident of the United States, which gives you the authority to live and work in the United States permanently. 

8. Receive Your Green Card

You will be mailed your green card.  If you do not receive your green card within 30 days of your arrival, please call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 or visit your local office by making an InfoPass appointment.  Make an appointment by visiting the Infopass page.

Guestbook Entry for Igor, United States

Name: 
Igor
State: 
Virginia
Country: 
United States
Comment: 

Rajiv is indeed an extraordinary lawyer, great strategist and very nice human being. He and his great team helped our family to stay together and live where we belong to. Got ridiculous case: U.S. citizen's wife's green card was denied because of technicality. Appeal was denied too but Rajiv and his team managed to convince the Service that this case must be approved. Special thanks go to Rajiv, Mark and Bill who were much more than just lawyers, who put many hours, sometimes even on weekends, to win this case for us. 

Posted on: 
28th Oct, 2013

Guestbook Entry for Anand Bagavandoss, United States

Name: 
Anand Bagavandoss
State: 
LA
Country: 
United States
Comment: 

We are so pleased with your service and prompt response to all the queries and concerns. Each and every doubt was explanined to us in very professional manner. I will recommend Rajiv S Khanna's law firm to all of my friends.

Posted on: 
11th Sep, 2013

Process After Getting Immigrant Visa

Make an infopass appointment and get her passport stamped for temporary proof of green card. She can travel with that. Normally, the physical GC takes just a few weeks. I am not concerned about SSN. That will arrive eventually. But do review my blog videos about I-131 and maintaining green card, etc.<

DS-260 Immigrant Visa Electronic Application

1. You must have:
Internet access
Your NVC Case Number (refer to the message you received from NVC)
Your Invoice I.D. number (refer to the message you received from NVC)

2. You can access the DS-260 from the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC)< website, by going to ImmigrantVisas.state.gov< and clicking on “Submit Visa Application and Civil Documents,” or on the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate where you will apply.

3. No. All answers, except as specially provided, must be in English, using English characters only. Applications submitted in any language other than English may be rejected, and you will be required to log back into the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) and provide English answers. 

4. Most fields on the DS-260 are mandatory. You may leave fields marked “Optional” blank. Some fields may also give you the option to select “Does Not Apply.” If a field does not apply to you, you may mark the box next to “Does Not Apply.” All other fields must be completed: the application will not allow you to submit a form with any mandatory fields left blank. In this instance, an error message will be displayed and you will be required to complete the field before continuing with the application. If you do not answer questions that apply, your form may be rejected.

5. You may save your partially completed DS-260 at any time by clicking on the "Save" button at the bottom of every page. If you need to step away, simply click the "Save" button to save your progress, and click on "Sign Out" in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. All data that you entered up to the point of clicking on "Save" will be stored until you are ready to continue completing the form.

To ensure your privacy if you step away in the middle of data entry, the DS-260 has a “time out” feature. If your DS-260 application is idle for approximately 20 minutes, CEAC will log you off. All data that you entered up to the last time you clicked "Save" will be stored until you are ready to continue completing the form. Any data that you entered after clicking "Save" will be lost.

6. You can access your saved application by returning to the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website and seleecting View/Edit from the IV and Alien Registration section of the Immigrant Visa – Summary Information screen. You will then be provided with a list of all applicants in your case along with the status of each application (NOT STARTED, INCOMPLETE, or SUBMITTED). To continue updating an incomplete application, simply click on the "Edit" button to the right of the application’s status.

Once you submit your application, by clicking the “Sign and Submit Application” button on the "Sign and Submit" page, you will be unable to access your application again without the assistance of NVC, or the U.S. embassy or consulate at which you plan to apply.

7. You should not bring your application with you to your interview. The interviewing officer will have full access to review your application online.

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