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What if Petitioner Becomes a Citizen

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What if my petitioner naturalizes? Hi, I'm Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our offices in St. Louis, Missouri and San Diego, California. We had a couple of questions asked last week in our Immigrant Home Facebook Group. By the way, if you're not a member you should think about joining, it's free and we share a lot of great immigration information in there and that's where I get a lot of my ideas for questions. If you have questions you can leave them in there and sometimes I'll shoot a video.

We got a lot of questions last week about what happens if I have a pending either adjustment case or a immigrant visa case, usually an immigrant visa case, and my petitioner naturalizes? The case was filed on behalf of a lawful permanent resident who wanted to sponsor their spouse or their underage child or their overage child, their child over the age of 21. That's really where we see it the most is where a lawful permanent resident is sponsoring their child who's over the age of 21 to come to the United States and to get an immigrant visa, and that process can take years.

Depending on the country of origin and depending on the priority date, that can take a long time and sometimes the petitioner will become a US citizen. Because of limits and caps on the categories of people that come to the United States, there are different delays, different lengths of time by which someone can come to the United States. In other words, there's a backlog. The strange thing is, is that the line for the adult children of US citizens is longer than the adult children of lawful permanent residents, that's just because there have been more people apply as citizens for their adult children to come to the United States.

When that happens, when the green card holder becomes a citizen, when the petitioner, the person doing the sponsoring becomes a citizen, in theory they lose that priority date. Their case would go slower because the time that they were coming as a green card holder, when they were sponsoring as a green card holder, now that they're becoming a US citizen that line is longer and so the question is, is there a way to keep that priority date? Yes, there is.

You can ask the National Visa Center to continue to treat your case as the adult child of a green card holder instead of as a citizen. In other words, your petitioner can take advantage of becoming a citizen but you can also stay in the line that you were in before, you don't have to go back to that other line. You don't have to start over, for sure, and you don't even have to have your case categorized as the adult child of a citizen.

Now, in other situations it's a good thing when the petitioner becomes a US citizen. If a green card holder has sponsored their spouse and if we're in a time where there are a back-log of visas available for the spouses of green card holders and the green card holder becomes a citizen, that's really good. You can notify wherever the case is at USCIS or the National Visa Center or at the embassy that the petitioner has become a US citizen because they're going to have a greater priority.

Even like now where the visa numbers for green card holding spouses is current, you still want to notify them that you are now a US citizen, they'll treat your case better, your case will go faster so lots to think about when the petitioner is thinking about becoming a US citizen. The final thing is, is they could knock out the application if it's a follow to join application based on the person being awarded green card status.

That's a little bit trickier but in all these scenarios if you have a pending visa application and if you're thinking about naturalizing as a petitioner, you probably need to talk to an immigration lawyer to make sure that you're not doing anything to screw up your case or how to take advantage of the fact that you've become a citizen so that you can get greater priority and greater attention paid to your case.

Hope this all makes sense, I was a little jumbled up today. It's a hard thing to explain without visuals. Usually I'd like to have here's the line for the adult children as citizens, here's the line for the adult children of all the permanent residents. This line is actually shorter than this line and when you move from one to the other in theory you'd lose time, you'd lose a couple years of time. There's a way that if you notify the National Visa Center correctly that you want to be treated as the adult child of a green card holder even though mom or dad became a US citizen, you can still do that, it's just a little bit tricky to pull off.

If you have questions about this, give us a call. (314) 961-8200. You can email us at [email protected]. Be sure to join us on our Facebook group, it's called Immigrant Home, we'd love to see in there. We also have our YouTube channel that you should subscribe to so that you get updates whenever we make videos like this one. Don't forget, every Tuesday and Thursday usually around noon central time you'll find us in our Facebook group on our YouTube channel answering as many of your immigration related questions as we can. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

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