Like a Fresh Summer Breeze, the State Department’s release of its August 2013 Visa Bulletin brings relief for many immigrants in the U.S. The Bulletin relays the news that as of August 1st, spouses and children of U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs), if otherwise eligible, will be able to submit applications for permanent residence (if in the U.S.) or apply for an immigrant visa (if abroad).
Immigrants that are lawfully in the U.S. and eligible for filing, should be sure to have their applications and supporting documentation submitted during the month of August. This is critical because categories sometimes retrogress – as any professional worker monitoring movement of the third-preference employment categories will tell you. Despite retrogression, if an applicant's application has already been properly filed, she is considered to be in an authorized period of stay and can legally remain in the U.S. until the category is current again.
Within 90 days of filing, the applicant / beneficiary in the U.S. will be eligible to receive work and travel permits, a social security number and a driver’s license. If the classification significantly retrogresses, the petitioner may Naturalize in the time being, permitting the pending applications to be upgraded and allotting for adjustment of status or an immigrant visa.
This is the first time in decades that F-2A visa numbers have become current. Visa numbers for F-2As are typically backlogged by several years of waiting and available only to those who had a petition filed for them before a certain cutoff date.
Further, given the Supreme Court's recent decision striking down section 3 of DOMA, remember that the above advice applies to same-sex couples as well. Permanent residents who enter into same sex marriages will be able to petition their spouses as F-2As. They too can expect their spouses to quickly immigrate while visa numbers remain current, providing the requirements for a valid marriage are met.
If the immigrant beneficiary has a criminal record, is in need of a waiver, or entered the U.S. unlawfully, retaining competent legal counsel is imperative.