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Marriage matters

Wednesday, August 13, 2014    

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Q: My husband's mother is a United States citizen and she filed an immigrant visa application for him about four years ago. We are recently married. As his wife, when this comes through will I automatically get through too? Or will he have to file for me after he gets his visa? If he has to file for me, how long will that take?

A: Congratulations on your marriage! As you found out, important life events such as marriage or having children don't wait for the visa process. This often happens to applicants and there are ways to adjust his status to reflect your wedding.

You don't mention if the petition was filed before or after your wedding, but if the petition was filed before the wedding, your husband was likely applying in the F1 visa category -- this is a family-sponsored immigrant visa that may be filed by US citizens for their unmarried sons and daughters. There is a separate category, the F3 visa category, for the married sons and daughters of US citizens.

If the petition was filed before the wedding, your husband or his mother will need to notify the US government office that is currently processing his case of his change of relationship status. This would be either the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) regional office, the National Visa Center (NVC) or US Embassy Kingston. Your petitioner has been notified of where the case is being handled for the processing and should know the relevant office to contact. As a general rule, if the petition hasn't yet been approved, it's at USCIS; if it's been approved, it's at NVC; and if you've been notified that your interview has been scheduled, it's at our Embassy in Kingston. You can contact the USCIS at +1 (800) 375-5283, NVC at nvcinquiry@state.gov and US Embassy Kingston at kingstoniv@state.gov. Be sure to provide details to help track your case, such as your case number, any receipt number, a scan of your marriage certificate, and a short explanation of why you are requesting the change in visa category.

After you let us know about your marriage, the original visa petition will be converted to the new F3 category and you both will be on this petition. Your husband's application will retain the same priority date, or the date that his original F1 petition was filed -- this can be found on Form I-797, Notice of Action, the form the petitioner received to notify your family that the application was underway.

If the petition was filed after the wedding, check with your husband and his mother to make sure that they filed for both of you in the correct F3 visa category for married sons and daughters. In this case, check with the relevant US government office above to make sure that your information is current and correct.

There are limits on the amount of family-based immigration petitions that can be issued each year, so it does take time to process these types of visas. The length of time varies from case to case and cannot be predicted for individual cases. Keep your petition current by notifying the correct US office if your petitioner has a new contact address or if new details come up in your case; this will help you when the time comes for your application.

You can find more information about how to travel to the US on our website, www.kingston.usembassy.gov. Keep on top of Embassy news on our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/pages/US-Embassy-Jamaica and by following @USEmbassyJA on Twitter. We also answer general visa questions on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

The Embassy staff in Kingston will answer questions you may have regarding the US Mission, including consular law, regulations and/or practice. In order to respect privacy, staff will not answer questions about specific visa applications. The embassy employs a visa appointment system, so it is only necessary for visa applicants to arrive 15 minutes before their scheduled appointment.

Send your questions to: editorial@jamaicaobserver. com and we will send them to the embassy.

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