Aliens who married or had children before the date of obtaining permanent residency can possibly confer “following-to-join” benefits to their family members. Due to this process, spouses and children will be able to receive green cards quickly. “Following-to join” is not family based immigration, but is similar to a child/spouse receiving derivative benefits based on a primary LPR’s immigration petition.
Here are the following requirements to be met in order for a spouse or child to qualify under “following-to-join”:
1. The LPR must have adjusted status or obtained an immigrant visa through a preference category (family or employment based) or diversity lottery. A LPR’s visa number must also be current in order for a family member to receive “following-to-join”.
2. The petitioner married/had children before becoming a permanent resident and the relationship between the permanent resident and spouse/child is intact at the time of filing. Children of LPRs must be unmarried and under the age of 21. Furthermore, the child/step-child must be from an existing marriage before the LPR obtained permanent residency.
“Following-to-join” is convenient because it allows primary beneficiaries to do away with filing a separate I-130 for their spouse or child, greatly expediting the green card approval process. Furthermore, spouses and children of LPRs do not have to wait for a visa number to become available. Where a LPR’s spouse or child currently resides affects what procedures he/she needs to follow. If ones spouse and/or child are already in the United States, they may apply for adjustment of status (I-485) based on “following-to-join” and if they are outside of the United States then LPRs need to inform a U.S. consulate of their lawful permanent residency status in order for their family members to apply for an immigrant visa.