Although Lawful Permanent Residents (Green Card holders/LPR’s) can sponsor their spouses for Green Cards, the process can take years due to the fact that this is an oversubscribed category.
However, for April 2020, there are immigrant visas immediately available in this category so LPR’s can sponsor their spouses and the spouses will be able to file for adjustment of status immediately and obtain work authorization within the space of a few months.
The rules for legal permanent residents planning to sponsor their spouses for a Green Card are different compared to US citizens.
Green Card holders are only eligible to sponsor:
- Unmarried children (of any age);
Green Card holders are not eligible, however, to sponsor:
- Married children over 21;
One of the main differences between Green Card holders and US citizens sponsoring others is that while US citizens can file the Form I-130 (Petition from Foreign Relatives) and Form I-485 (Application for Permanent Residence Registration or Status Adjustment) simultaneously, Green Card holders must file in a two-step process. As a Green Card holder, you must first complete Form I-130 and then wait for your spouse’s priority date to be able to complete Form I-485.
Unlike spouses of US citizens, the spouses of Green Card holders are placed on a waiting list. As a Green Card holder, your visa application sponsored by your spouse is placed in the “Second Preference” category, which means that your spouse will receive a “priority date” based on the date you complete Form I -130. Until that priority date arrives, your spouse will remain ineligible to complete Form I-485 and obtain the status adjustment to become a legal permanent resident.
It may take several years for your spouse’s priority date to arrive. This creates a significant difference between completing Form I-130 as a US citizen versus as a legal permanent resident, as it may take several years for your spouse’s priority date to arrive. Although estimates vary, the average waiting time can be between 2.5 and 4 years from the date an I-130 form is filed. In addition, the USCIS imposes country-specific limits on the number of visas issued each year and the demand for visas for citizens of certain countries (including China, India and Mexico) is exceptionally high.
SPECIAL RULES FOR APRIL 2020: AS OF APRIL 2020, THE PRIORITY DATES FOR ALL COUNTRIES IN THIS CATEGORY (CALLED F2A) HAVE BECOME CURRENT. THIS MEANS THAT THE RESTRICTIONS HAVE BEEN TEMPORARILY REMOVED AND YOU CAN FILL OUT FORMS I-130 AND I-485 SIMULTANEOUSLY, WHICH SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCES WAITING TIME. IF YOU ARE THINKING OF SPONSORING A SPOUSE, NOW IS THE TIME TO DO SO.
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