Reporting Changes To Your Petition (Part 1)

Reporting Changes To Your Petition (Part 1)

When a family petition is filed, it can sometimes take many months or even years for the petition to be approved, and then even more years until the priority date is current.  For example, it can take more than five years for a sibling petition (F-4) to be approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and then 20 more years until the visa is available.

During that time, the information on the petition may no longer be accurate, or circumstances may have changed.  If that is the case, it is important to notify either the USCIS or the National Visa Center (NVC) of changes that may affect the waiting time on a petition or even its continued validity/viability.  In addition, failure to notify USCIS or NVC could even result in the petition being terminated.

Here are some changes that may occur, which you should report:

  1. Change of address.  When a petition is filed and the petitioner’s and beneficiary’s addresses are listed, notices will be sent to the last address on file.  If the petitioner or beneficiary moves but does not notify USCIS or NVC, then notices will be sent to the last address, which may sometimes have deadlines to respond.  If the response is not received, the case could be denied or terminated.  An address forwarding notice to the post office only lasts one year.  Therefore, make sure to promptly report any change of address to USCIS or NVC.
  2. Petitioner’s naturalization.  If the petition was filed when the petitioner was a lawful permanent resident (LPR) and the petitioner later naturalized, this should be reported, as it may affect the waiting time for a visa for the family member.  For example, if an LPR petitioned a spouse or minor child and then naturalized, the processing time could be much faster.  However, the petitioner should consult with an attorney before naturalizing, because in some cases, it could mess up a family member’s eligibility, such as the petitioner naturalizing after a child’s biological 21st birthday, which may affect the child’s CSPA (Child Status Protection Act) eligibility.
  3. Beneficiary’s marriage.  While my advice is that “If you love them, don’t marry them,” if the beneficiary does get married while waiting for their visa, this should also be reported so the spouse can be added.  However, marriage could greatly affect the waiting time for a visa or void the petition.  For example, if a son or daughter is petitioned as single by a U.S. citizen parent (F-1) and gets married, they may have to wait 10 or more additional years for a visa in the F-3 category.  If the parent was an LPR, the son or daughter’s marriage would void the petition.
  4. Beneficiary’s termination of marriage.  If a son or daughter was petitioned by a U.S. citizen parent while married (F-3), but the beneficiary’s marriage was terminated (through annulment, divorce, death of spouse, etc.), USCIS or NVC should be notified so the petition can be reclassified as unmarried (F-1), where the waiting time for a visa is at least 10 years faster than married.  If the marriage is terminated but the family does not notify the government, the case will remain in the category for married children.

As you can see, there are many changes that can take place after the petition is filed that could affect the waiting time or validity of the petition.  In a future article, I will discuss more items.  If you have a pending petition, you may want to consult with an attorney to make sure the case is on track, appropriate changes are reported, and the attorney could also assist in processing the case once the visa becomes available.



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