Spouse or Child of LPR? Your Priority Date Is Current!

The State Department has advanced everyone in preference category 2A to "Current"

Have you checked the State Department Visa Bulletin lately? If you are the spouse or child of a U.S. lawful permanent resident, in category 2A of the family preference system, you might be in for a surprise. For the month that is almost over  July of 2013, the Priority Date being shown as current was “October 8, 2011” for applicants for most countries, and “September 1, 2011“ for applicants from Mexico. Those dates indicate that people who applied around two years ago are only now becoming eligible for U.S immigrant visas (which lead to a green card), and everyone else who applied more recently could probably expect to wait another two years. (To better understand this system, see Nolo’s article on “How Long Is the Wait for Your Priority Date to Become Current?”)

But the August, 2013 Visa Bulletin doesn’t show any dates at all in the 2A row. It just says “C,” for current. That means that everyone, regardless of when their U.S. petitioner submitted a visa petition on their behalf, has the opportunity to go forward with their green card applications.

What’s going on? Apparently the State Department (DOS) felt that not enough people were following through on collecting their visas, so they threw open the door to applications . The DOS reportedly plans to keep this category current for the next several months, though many lawyers warn that this agency could change its mind at any time.

What does this mean for applicants? You’ll want to act quickly – but carefully. If the numbers “retrogress” or go back to actual dates before you’ve succeeded in obtaining your visa or green card, and your date is later than the one that appears on the most recent Visa Bulletin, you will have expended a lot of effort and money for nothing, because you will be issued a denial notice.

If the immigrant in this case is overseas, expect a communication from the National Visa Center. If the immigrant is in the U.S. in lawful status, it may be possible to submit an adjustment of status application in August, even without anyone notifying you first  – but you are most likely not eligible to adjust status if the immigrant has overstayed a visa or entered the U.S. unlawfully (without inspection). Your best bet is to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to work out a strategy and to get your paperwork completed as soon as possible.