We have been in your shoes. Let us help you take the first step.

Follow to Join Benefits for Spouse and Children

What is "Follow to Join" benefits? This is a fairly complicated subject, but we have created a comprehensive questionnaire to see if your family can benefit from this nuanced rule. 

Are you a permanent resident who received your status through a preference category?

Yes.

Were you married at the time you became a permanent resident?

Yes.

Did you have children when your became a permanent resident?

Yes.

Did your spouse and children physically accompany you to the United States?

No.

Since your spouse and children were not able to accompany you when you became a permanent resident, and since you answered yes to the first three questions, you need not file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative to bring them to the U.S. as permanent residents.  They may be eligible for follow-to-join benefits, which means you may notify a U.S. Consulate that you have a green card so then your spouse and children can apply for immigrant visas. This also means that they need not wait for extra time for a visa number to become available.

Your spouse and children may be eligible for follow-to-join benefits if your relationship with them existed at the time you became a permanent resident and still exists and you received your immigrant visa or adjusted status in a preference category.

Your spouse could be eligible for follow-to-join benefits if the preference category that you got your immigrant visa through was one of the following:

  • Employment based immigration
  • Immigration based on your relationship to your U.S. citizen sibling
  • Immigration based on your relationship to a U.S. citizen parent when you were already married
  • Diversity visa

Your child could be eligible for follow-to-join benefits if the preference category that you got your immigrant visa through was one of the following:

  • Immigration based on a fiance(e) petition
  • Employment based immigration
  • Immigration based on your relationship to your U.S. citizen sibling
  • Immigration based on your relationship to a U.S. citizen parent when you were already married or unmarried and over 21 years
  • Immigration based on your relationship to a permanent resident parent when you were unmarried
  • Diversity visa

If your spouse and child fall into one of these categories, you need to submit the following to the USCIS:

  • Form I-824, Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition
  • A copy of the original application or petition that you used to apply for immigrant status
  • A copy of Form I-797, Notice of Action, for the original application or petition
  • A copy of your Form I-551 (green card)
  • Proof that your child meets the requirements for follow-to-join benefits.

[Note: To be eligible, your child needs to be below the age of 21, unmarried, and should be your child through marriage, or your step-child through marriage or in case of an adopted child, should have been legally adopted before your admission to the U.S. as an immigrant and qualify as an adopted child under U.S. immigration laws.]

If you are in the U.S. and are yet to file for an adjustment of status to permanent resident, you can file Form I-824 for your spouse and child along with your Form I-485.And since you are concurrently filing Form I-824, you need not submit any supporting documentation.

Once the Form I-824 is approved, USCIS will notify the U.S. Consulate abroad that you are a permanent resident now. This means your spouse and children can now apply for an immigrant visa for which they need to report to the Consulate for further processing.

Need Counsel for Immigration? Call Today.

Immigration law can be complicated and this article does not exhaust all the information surrounding following-to-join. These issues can be extremely complex, and a single misstep could potentially lead to a rejection of your application or other immigration penalties. If you have any questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Call our law firm for a consultation today at: (949) 478-4936.