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Changes in family-based immigration law- after immigration reform

Dear Readers, I am so sorry for the delay in this particular post. I know I have promised many of you that I will let you know how things will be changing and how that affects you.  See below a flowchart I created demonstrating what the current system looks like and how it will change. Recently, someone posed a question how family-based immigration will become faster.  The answer is simple- by changing many of the current preference cateogories into immediate relatives, preference cateogory visas will be freed up for new petitions.

Family-based immigration changes flowchart created by Tahmina Watson

Family-based immigration changes flowchart created by Tahmina Watson

What will happen to my pending petition?

If you have a pending petition in any preference category, that should automatically change into a new category (see above).

How will this new system reduce my waiting time?

If your petition turns into an immediate relative petition, then hopefully you should see action soon.  If your petition is in a preference cateogory that still has a waiting time, then you may be eligible for a Track 2 merit based petition.  

I want to apply for my parent/spouse/child- when shall I do it?

There is no time like the present! But remember, while we all hope immigration reform will happen, there is some chance that the bill may not pass.  It is wise not to rely on what may happen and act on what the current law provides.

Is the sibling category really being eliminated?

I’m afraid so.  It is best to file for your siblings now, while you can.

Can I retain my family-based prority date if someone else files an immigrant petition for me?

The current system only allows you to retain your priority date if the same person files a new petition for you.  The immigration reform bill S.744 will change that to allow anyone to retain their earliest priority date in any family-based or employment-based immigration petition.

If I file an immigrant petition for my sibling, can he/she visit me in the US?

The V-visa will be expanded in the bill which will allow your sibling (of USC) to visit you for upto 60 days in the US.  Your sibling will not be allowed to work during that time. In addition, she/he will not receive a visa (when a visa becomes available) while in the US.

Can my unmarried son/daughter (of LPR)  or married son/daughter  child (of USC) visit me in the US while the I-130 petition is pending?

Yes. Immigration reform will make this wonderful change.  She/he can visit and even get work permission while here.  However, the work permission will end if the I-130 is denied or the adjustment is denied.  The work permission will be terminated within 30 days of denial.

I am a green holder and I am applying for my daughter. My daughter has a 6 month old son.  What will happen to him?

Under current immigration law, your grandchild will have to wait for your daughter to file a petition for him.  However, immigration reform will allow your grandchild to come to the US with your daughter! This is a huge change!  See above chart for derivatives.


If you have any questions, feel free to email us at

*Copyright 2013 by Watson Immigration Law. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

0 thoughts on “Changes in family-based immigration law- after immigration reform

  • My question to you is i have a sister who was born in Sep 1976 her priority date is Dec 2007 she is 31 and four month at the time of filling does that include her in the F3 Catagory from what i have seen some people say under 31 at the time of filling you are saying 31 or under can you clearfy Pleaseeeeeeeeeeeee

  • Ahmad, as far as I understand, pending F3 petitions should not be affected by the age issue. If the law passes, only new petitions should be affected.

    At this time, all of this is speculation. While we have a Senate bill with these provisions, we don’t know what the House will do and what terms we will ultimately have (because both House and Senate will have to compromise, if we get there). So, keep an eye on the law and feel free to get in touch when we have final provisions at hand.

  • I heard that the “proposed” new law will eliminate per country quota for family based immigration. In other words, all pending petitions will be pooled together and visa will be issued whoever has oldest priority date. if thats true, doesn’t it mean, only phillipnes and Mexico will be getting family visa for several years until their priority dates match with India/China and rest of the world.

    Have you “unofficially” heard anything like that? Or is it just rumor? I know senate has not passed the law yet and noone knows how will it look like once finalized, but what do you know so far, based on what we know so far.

  • Hi Sunny,

    That is a great question! I have been meaning to write an article about it. It is in the text of the bill that Senate passed (and I believe there is something in the House bill too, cannot recall). I will remind myself of it and then reply again. But from recollection, unused visas from many years past will be pooled together. There is something about quota change but let me review before I tell you. Also, send me an email at in 2 weeks if you don’t hear back on this. Thanks again!

  • Hello tahmina
    my mother( USC) is filing an i130 for me this week. I’m in preference category F3 and just wondered how the wait times of 11 years would be effected with the new immigration reform. Hopefully sped up but what do you think? Thanks

  • Hi Greg, thanks for the question. If we are fortunate enough to have immigration reform, then I think the waiting time will change. The final version of the law will dictate that. The current bill suggests waiting times will reduce but hard to know what the final bill that will become law will look say.

    My opinion is that waiting times should reduce. However, if visas become available for everyone, procedurally things will likely slow down.

    Hope that helps. I would suggest signing up to this blog as I will write about this issue when I get a little bit more time. This question comes up over and over again and is naturally a burning question for all. If there are other versions or other bills introduced (which could be imminent- watch the news today)- I will write about those too.

    Thanks again for the good question and best of luck with the petition. Warmly, Tahmina

  • With f4 category eliminated will the pending petitions for that said category go to the merit system and if so will it speed up the wait time

  • Hi Mia, the F4 category will only be eliminated if there is immigration reform, which is very unlikely any time soon unfortunately. But if immigration reform were to happen and F4 were to be eliminated, petitions pending will remain pending and at some point will likely speed up. Only new petitions will be affected, meaning new petitions cannot be filed.

  • OK I understand, us as f4 need a miracle wait time is too long and it looks like the back log is not going to clear anytime soon

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