Every year, thousands of people from across the world dream of living permanently in the U.S. Many of these people want to come for better employment or education than the ones in their home country. Others, meanwhile, come to the U.S. to be with their families.
According to the U.S. Department of State, more than 460,000 immigrant visas were issued to foreign nationals in 2019. The majority of these visas were granted through family-sponsored preference, immediate relatives, and employment-based preference.
If you’re one of the many who immigrated to the U.S. for work, not being with your family can be difficult. Fortunately, they can join you here, and you don’t have to worry that they will undergo as lengthy a process as you did. Once you’re a lawful permanent resident (LPR)or “green card” holder, your family can enjoy the Follow-to-Join benefits.
What Is Follow-to-Join?
Follow-to-Join is a benefit afforded to the family members of green card holders to immigrate to the U.S. in a faster and more convenient way. Instead of your family members having to file for an immigrant petition through Form I-130 and waiting for a visa number to become available, you can submit a Follow-to-Join application on behalf of your family through Form I-824, formally known as the Application for Action on An Approved Application or Petition.
Eligibility for Follow-to-Join Benefits
Not every immigrant in the U.S. can enjoy Follow-to-Join benefits. There are two main requirements that you and your immediate family members need to meet to qualify. These are:
- You must have obtained your lawful permanent resident status in a preference category. This means you must have received your immigrant visa and green card based on Family Preference Category, Employment-Based Category, Diversity Visa, K Visa, or V Visa.
- You and your spouse have been married at the time your green card application was approved, and your relationship still exists when you file a Follow-to-Join claim. If with children, they must be under 21 years old when you submit a Follow-to-Join application, and they must have already been born when your green card application was approved.
If you and your family cannot fulfill these requirements, you are not eligible for Follow-to-Join benefits. Of course, there are other ways to bring your family into the U.S., such as going the traditional route and applying for an immigrant visa. Talk to an immigration attorney to learn more about your options.
The Follow-to-Join Application Process
1. Prepare all the necessary documents
If you’re eligible and want to bring your family to the U.S. immediate, accomplish the For I-824 and submit them to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with copies of your original immigration application, Form I-797 or the Notice of Action for your initial request, and a copy of your Form I-551 or green card.
2. Attend Visa Interviews
Once you’ve submitted all required documents, your family will need to complete interviews at a U.S. embassy or the nearest designated USCIS office.
3. Get Your Visas
After the interviews, all you have to do is wait. If your petition is approved, then your family members are granted immigrant visas and can join you in the U.S. If your request was denied, you could file an appeal.
The U.S. government values family unity, which is why they have made uniting immigrant families easy. Using the information above, you can be one step closer to having your family with you in the U.S.