|Thursday, 23 February 2012 12:37|
Question: My sister filed a petition to sponsor me and my family (husband & three kids), in October 2000. We have been illegal here since 1999. We came to see you a long time ago after we made a mistake and filed for residency ourselves too soon and got denied and lost all our filing fees. You told us we had to wait for the date on the visa bulletin. Now the March 2012 visa bulletin says that the I-130's that were filed by October 8, 2000 can apply. The I-130 approval we have says our priority date is October 15, 2000. Can we file for our residency now since the date is so close, almost to our I-130 date?
Answer: Understanding how the Family Immigrant Visa system works and the importance of the monthly Visa Bulletin is crucial, but it can be very confusing. The I-130 approval notice has a "priority date" marked in the box near the filing date. That priority date is your place in the long family immigrant visa waiting line. Just imagine that there is a USCIS window ahead and you are standing in a long line, waiting to move closer to the window. Those in front of you had I-130 petitions filed by their siblings earlier than October 15, 2000 and those behind you had theirs filed later. That long line moves up each month, according to the priority date published by the State Department on the Visa Bulletin website. The official Visa Bulletin has the priority date for the current month and also posts the next month's Priority Dates several weeks in advance.
On the first day of the next month, those immigrants with priority dates on or before that month's published date, are eligible to file their residency petitions. Instead of moving ahead each month however, the Visa Bulletin may sometimes stay the same or move backwards. This is called "regression," as the demand for immigrant visas exceeds the number of immigrant visas legally available each year. When that happens, you may become stuck and not move forward for a few years.
Your I-130 priority date is October 15, 2000. Even though the March Visa Bulletin has a priority date of October 8, 2000 which is very close to your date, you can't move up to the USCIS window until the first day of the Visa Bulletin that has a Priority Date published of October 15, 2000 or later. Likely, the April 2012 Visa Bulletin will show a priority date of November 2000, which exceeds your priority date. You should be eligible to apply on or after April 1, 2012. Because your date is so close, we can start preparing the residency petitions for you and file your applications with the USCIS on April 1. You can link to the State Department Visa Bulletin and learn more about family immigration by visiting our website at: ImmigrateToday.com
** Contributions to this column are made by Attorney Caroly Pedersen, Esq. of the American Immigration Law Center – Call 954-382-5378
|Last Updated on Thursday, 23 February 2012 16:01|