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The "Following-To-Join" Benefit for Permanent Resident's Child to Get U.S. Green Card

1. The "Following-To-Join" Benefit for Permanent Resident's Unmarried Children and Under the Age of 21

U.S. permanent resident who married before the date of obtaining the U.S. permanent residency can possibly confer “following-to-join” benefits to his or her family members (husband, wife, and child). Essentially, through this process, spouses and children will be able to receive U.S. Green Cards quickly. The following-to-join is for alien spouse and children to receive derivative benefits based on a primary permanent residency’s immigration application approval.

Certain requirements must be met in order for a child to qualify under “following-to-join”. First, the legal permanent resident must have adjusted status or obtained Green Card through a preference category (family or employment based) or diversity lottery. In addition, an immigrant visa number must also be current in order for a child to receive “following-to-join”. 
Second, the Green Card holder married before becoming a permanent resident, and the relationship between the permanent resident and spouse/child is intact at the time of filing. Children of the permanent resident must be unmarried and under the age of 21. Furthermore, the child/step-child must be from an existing marriage before the permanent resident obtained permanent residency. 

If you had children who did not obtain permanent residence at the same time as you did, they may be eligible for follow-to-join benefits. This means that you do not have to submit a separate Form I-130 for your children. In addition, your children will not have to wait any extra time for a visa number to become available. In this case, you may simply notify a U.S. consulate that you are a permanent resident so that your children can apply for an immigrant visa.

You should also be prepared to prove that you meet the income requirement of a sponsor. Your household income should be sufficient to support your family at 125% or more above the U.S. poverty level for your household size.

2. How to Apply for "Following-To-Join" Immigration for Permanent Resident's Child?

If you had children before you obtained a Green Card (became a permanent resident), your children may be eligible to receive following-to-join benefits. This means that you would not have to submit a separate USCIS Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) for your children, and your children will not have to wait any extra time for a visa number to become available. The relationship should exist at the time you became a permanent resident and still exists.

If you were married to your spouse before you became a permanent resident, your spouse and children may be eligible to receive following-to-join benefits. This means that you would not have to submit a separate Form I-130 for your spouse and child, and they would not have to wait any extra time for an immigrant visa to become available. You should file the Form I-824, Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition at the USCIS office that took the most recent action on your case. If the Form I-824 is approved, the USCIS will notify a U.S. consulate that you are a lawful permanent resident, so that your spouse/children can apply for immigrant visas. You must then ask your spouse/children to report to the local U.S. consulate to complete the processing.

Children born outside the United States after the sponsoring parent obtained a Green Card must have an approved Form I-130 Immigrant Petition in order to be eligible to apply for a Green Card. In addition to an approved Immigrant Petition, a foreign child in this category must have a current "Priority Date." 

3. A U.S. Permanent Resident Cannot Sponsor Married Child for U.S. Green Card

A U.S. citizen may petition for a Green Card to bring a child to live and work in the United States permanently, regardless of the child's age or marital status. But A lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder) can only petition for an unmarried child of any age.

Children of lawful permanent residents may be sponsored only if they are unmarried, and should not marry prior to the Green Card approval. However, if they marry after the I-130 application has been filed, the petition will be deemed as invalid, and neither the person nor the new spouse would be able to become a Green Card holder based on the Form I-130 filing. 

Therefore, unmarried children of lawful permanent residents, who are the beneficiaries of I-130 petitions based on this relationship, should not marry if sponsorship by a lawful permanent resident parent is the only avenue available to them for obtaining U.S. permanent residence. 

4. The Need to Update the USCIS Records Regarding Address Changes 

For family-based immigration, the Family 2A category is for spouses and minor children of U.S. permanent residents. The immigration visa number's waiting time could be long for this category - sometimes waiting for several years. Thus it is difficult for USCIS or DOS to communicate with petitioning relatives who have since relocated. Also, for some cases, USCIS may issue Request For Evidence (RFE) notice for cases that have not been approved.

When so much time has elapsed since the Form I-130 petition was initially filed, USCIS' mails may go to addresses that are long-since out of date. Many Form I-130 petitioners frequently are unaware of the need to update USCIS records when they change addresses. This is often the case for some petitioner who have forgot to file Form AR-11 to notify the USCIS for address change.

This is particularly so for U.S. citizens who are no longer subject to Form AR-11change-of-address requirements, since many I-130 petitioners filed as permanent residents, but naturalized to U.S. citizenship after filing. Therefore, USCIS always wishes to remind petitioners of the need to update the USCIS records regarding address changes. 



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