Latest Developments in

Immigration Law

Green Cards Are Available for Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents

What are Numerical Limitations on Visas, and What Do They Mean for Me?
Every year, the United States only issues a fixed, predetermined number of Visas in each category for each country. The exception to the rule is made for spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens – categorized in the immigration law as “immediate relatives… ” That unfortunately, means the spouses and children of Permanent Residents are subject to numerical restrictions.”

These numerical restrictions mean that even after your application for an immigrant visa is approved, you may have to wait in line to actually receive a visa.

Without the visa, even if your application for a visa was approved, you will not be able to enter the United States, if you are outside the United States. You will also not be able to apply for Permanent Residency (sometimes referred to as a Green Card). If you have a temporary status in the United States – for example, a visitor’s visa – your approved visa application will not give you permission to stay in the United States once your other status expires.

The length of the waiting period for a visa depends on the basis of your application and your country of origin.

I’m the Spouse or Child of a Permanent Resident. Will I Have to Wait in Line for a Visa?
If you apply soon, you will not need to wait in line for a visa.

Each month, the Department of State and Immigration announce information about the visa availability for the next month. They have now posted the visa availability for January 2021 and February 2021.

As of January and February 2021, the Department of State has authorized visas for all qualified applicants who are the spouses and children of U.S. Permanent Residents. This bulletin means that there is not currently a waiting list for visa availability in these categories. Therefore, spouses and children of U.S. permanent residents can apply for an immigrant visa and for a green card simultaneously. They will not have to wait for an immigrant visa to become available before applying for a green card, and they will be able to remain in the United States while their application is pending, because immigrant visas are available now.

To qualify, you must be legally in the United States, and you must be the spouse or child of a lawful permanent resident. To count as a “child” of a lawful permanent resident, you must be under the age of 21, and you must be unmarried.

I Think I’m Eligible to Apply for a Green Card. What Do I Do Now?
You can make an appointment with Attorney Jon Wu for help completing your application. Completing paperwork and gathering supporting documents may take some time, so if you think you are eligible, don’t hesitate to begin the application process!

Will I Still Be Able to Apply After February?
The Department of State will post their visa bulletin for March in mid-February. This visa bulletin will indicate whether visas are still available for spouses and children of Lawful Permanent Residents, or not.

Therefore, this opportunity may not be available in March. Applicants in March may ultimately need to wait in line for a visa.

I’m the Spouse or Child of a U.S. Citizen, not a Lawful Permanent Resident. Does This News Apply to Me?
If you are the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen, you are not ever subject to numerical limitations on visas. If you are lawfully in the United States, you may simultaneously apply for an immigrant visa and a green card, regardless of the number of visas that have been issued this year.

I’m Planning to Apply for an Immigrant Visa in a Different Category. Can I Also Apply for a Green Card?
You can consult the Department of State website for the most current information on your individual category, or you can make an appointment with Attorney Jon Wu for help understanding your options. However, each category has its own number of designated visas, so the status of spouses and children of lawful permanent residents will not affect your case if you are applying in a separate category.

San Mateo Immigration Lawyer Serving San Francisco Bay Area