This month, the United States Department of State published its August 2013 Visa Bulletin. The Visa Bulletin contains two charts showing the availability of visas for preference immigrants in the family-based and employment based categories according to country of chargeability.
The chart applicable to individuals seeking to immigrate based on a qualifying family relationship contains some very good news. The priority date cutoff for spouses and children of United States lawful permanent residents in the family-based second preference category ("F2A") will be current for August 2013.
So what does it mean to have a "current" priority date? To begin with, the Immigration and Nationality Act employs a priority system to regulate the number of lawful permanent resident admissions to the United States based on numerical limits and preference categories. A "preference" refers to the priority in allocating immigrant visas according to family relationships, professional skills and accomplishments, and geographic diversity. "Numerical limits" refers to the fact that each country is held to a limit of 7% of the annual worldwide level of immigrant admissions to the United States.
Immigrant visas are issued in the order in which an immigrant visa petition was filed. The filing date of the immigrant visa petition usually determines its priority date. A “current” priority date means that a visa is available; all approved immigrant visa petitions with priority dates before the preference cut-off date are deemed current. When a priority date is not current, no visa is available, even though the immigrant visa petition has been approved.
So during the month of August 2013, if you are a lawful permanent resident of the United States, your non-U.S. citizen/non-U.S. lawful permanent resident spouse or child who is lawfully present and maintaining his or her nonimmigrant status in the United States may be eligible to apply to adjust his or her status to that of a lawful permanent resident.
However, if your spouse or child will be abroad, or is not lawfully present or maintaining nonimmigrant status in the United States, then adjustment of status may not be a viable option for your loved one, and consular processing should be considered instead.
In either scenario, you should consult with a licensed immigration attorney to receive a detailed assessment of your situation before taking any affirmative steps toward applying for permanent residence.
Timothy D. Widman is a San Jose Immigration Attorney and the owner of the Law Office of Timothy D. Widman.