When a U.S. permanent resident marries a foreign national in the U.S. it often presents a significant challenge because they may have to wait anywhere from one to three years to be able to file an adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident. In a rare but positive move the State Department will now allow spouses and minor children (such as step-children) to file adjustment of status application.
When the July 2019 Visa Bulletin was first released, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) indicated that the worldwide F2A category – for spouses and children of permanent residents – would be current and available under Chart A, Final Action Dates, which defines when a visa is “available.” Ordinarily, this means spouses and minor children of permanent residents can file a Form I-485 adjustment of status application and stay in the U.S., as well as apply for work and travel permits. DOS noted in the July 2019 Visa Bulletin that despite the large amount of registered F2A demand, there are not enough applicants who are actively pursuing final action on their case to fully utilize all of the available numbers under the annual limit. Accordingly, the action to make the F2A category “current” was taken in an effort to generate an increased level of demand.
However, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can file an adjustment of status application. For July, USCIS initially indicated that family-based preference categories, including F2A, must use the Chart B, Date for Filing which is not current or “available” in the July 2019 Visa Bulletin.
Instead, only applicants with an F2A priority date earlier than March 8, 2019 would be able to file an adjustment of status application under Chart B. This made little sense to immigration attorneys and drew confusion: Why would USCIS limit the number of applicants eligible to file an adjustment of status application in this category by requiring filing under the backlogged Chart B? And, if an applicant files an adjustment of status application based on Chart A, will it be accepted since a visa number is clearly available?
Thankfully, earlier this week, USCIS updated its “Adjustment of Status Filing Charts from the Visa Bulletin” webpage to read:
“In the F2A category, there is a cutoff date on the Dates for Filing chart. However, the category is “current” on the Final Action Dates chart. This means that applicants in the F2A category may file using the Final Action Dates chart for July 2019.”
USCIS also confirmed that for all other family-based preference categories, adjustment of status applicants would need to use the Chart B, Date for Filing.
Therefore, starting July 1, 2019, spouses and minor children of permanent residents can file a Form I-485 adjustment of status application if they are eligible to adjust. They must be in valid status and must not have worked without authorization.