How long will it take a greencard holder to get married and bring my husband over? 6 Answers as of January 05, 2011

Nine months ago I got my green card, my boyfriend is here on a tourist visa and we would like to get married here but he has to go back afterward, we were counting on the new dates for the 2A category in the visa bulletin , which I follow up each month, but this month I realized that it has gone back again!! Can you please tell me that if we get married and apply by the end of Dec. 2010, according to these changes what is the approx. time that he has to wait for his green card, and whether he is able to get a tourist visa to come and visit me meanwhile?
Do you think there will be another jump in the spouse visa category (2A) again? And how is it possible that they were giving the visas of June 2010 and they suddenly went back to 2008? I just do not get it!

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
Pacifica Legal Services
Pacifica Legal Services | Floyd Fernandez
I am very frustrated for many people like you for the same reason. Some of them are clients of mine. The State Department makes the decision on the priority date for each preference category, both for green cards with family and employer petitioners. They do it based upon the number of visas that are available per month, which in turn are based upon the number of visas the Immigration & Nationality Act make available per year for each preference category. There may have been a large number of petitions filed in those categories during previous months that would make the number of places available shrink more than the government expected, so the date was "retrogressed" moved backward, which is what the State Department has done. What goes up must come down, so it may change again, but the State Department doesn't seem exceptionally eager to do that. If your boyfriend has not gone back, then he should do so. One thing is important, you don't benefit from any change in the priority dates until you are married and you file the Petition for Alien Relative. If you want to discuss it further, please feel free to e-mail or call to schedule a phone or in-person consultation. Best to you.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/5/2011
Fletcher, Tilton & Whipple, PC
Fletcher, Tilton & Whipple, PC | Kirk A. Carter
It is often difficult to predict exactly how long it will take to get a green card for the spouse of a permanent resident. If you had asked me six months ago I would have told you that without your becoming an American Citizen you could expect it to take 4 to 6 years. I would then ask you how long you have had your green card and go over the qualifications for naturalization to see if you might be close to being eligible for citizenship, particularly if your spouse or fianc is here in the US. If he were here in legal status, or even had made a legal entry and overstayed his visa, and you became a US citizen it would be relatively easy for you to sponsor him for a green card and for him to be processed quickly here, so long as he did not enter the US with the intent of staying here permanently. But you just got your citizenship nine months ago, so you've got four more years before you can file for naturalization, so these options aren't available to you.

Spouses of green card holders, a/k/a permanent residents are subject to the preference system and fall into the 2A category where there is a waiting list for visas. That waiting list as of a few months ago was about 5 to 6 years long. The Department of State publishes a visa bulletin each month that determines what the "cutoff" dates are, i.e. who will be served in that particular month based on "priority dates" which are established by the date you first filed your petition for your husband. Think of it like getting a ticket at the deli counter, except your ticket has a date on it. The visa bulletin is the State Department's sign which says "Now Serving" and lists the cutoff date for that month - if your case was filed before that cutoff date you can proceed with processing your case, if not you must wait. Unfortunately, the State Department doesn't process relative petitions and has no idea how many 2A spousal petitions are out there waiting in line, if the demand in a given month is greater than the visas they have allocated for that month based on the annual limit they have for the 2A category, they don't advance the "Now Serving" date, or they only advance it by a week or two instead of a full month. If the demand slows down, they may advance the category substantially by a year or two.

Every once and a while they throw a monkey wrench into the system by advancing the numbers dramatically to see what kind of demand they get. In December they did this by advancing the numbers by several years to the point where the waiting list went from 5 to 6 years to only 5 to 6 months! Of course the Department of State was inundated with demand for visa numbers and immediately pulled back the "Now Serving" date when they issued the January Visa Bulletin. For January the "Now Serving" date is 1/1/2008, which is effectively makes the waiting list approximately three years. This is a more realistic time frame based on historic trends and in my estimation is likely to be where we end up, somewhere in the two to four year range, but this is truly only a guess. If your husband or fianc is outside the US, you must add approximately 6 months for visa processing on top of visa availability for consular processing. I hope this clarifies how the preference system and waiting list works in the 2A category for spouses of permanent residents. My best advice is for you to consult with a qualified immigration attorney to see if there is some other way that your fianc may come to the US before you get married, perhaps as a student or under a work visa. Once you get married many visa options will be closed to him because of an issue called "immigrant intent" so talk to a lawyer before you do anything. Most have a reduced fee for the first consultation and can help you map out the best strategy for getting your fianc here to the US sooner rather than later.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 12/15/2010
Carlos E. Sandoval, P.A.
Carlos E. Sandoval, P.A. | Carlos Sandoval
It is very hard to tell you how long it is going to take for a visa to be available, since as you mentioned it can go back and forward. For now since it's in 2008 my best guess is two years.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 12/15/2010
Marie Michaud Attorney At Law
Marie Michaud Attorney At Law | Marie Michaud
The visa bulletin is unpredictable. The time will vary depending on the country of origin of your guy. For Example, Mexican have a longer wait time than a Canadian or a Japanese. In the past the 2A family category used to be a 5 to 6 year wait. In 10 years of practice, I had never seen anything so fast. So I can not tell you exactly how long it will take. But one thing for sure: The earlier you get married, the earlier you file for him, the earlier his turn will come up.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/14/2010
441 Legal Group, Inc.
441 Legal Group, Inc. | Gareth H. Bullock
Wish I could give you an explanation as to the jump back in processing but I can't. Filing any petition before December 31 won't make a difference unless the priority dates jump forward. While I have no information that they will it can happen we just have to keep on monitoring the bulletin.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 12/14/2010
Click to View More Answers: