If you have applied for your relatives’ petition while you were a permanent resident and later became a U.S. citizen, the petition for the relative’s visa classification can be upgraded without filing a new petition. Therefore, if you are eligible for a U.S. citizenship, you should apply as soon as possible.
If you received an approval for a family-based preference petition in one category and later your petition is upgraded, you can still keep your old priority date. The beneficiary may even become an immediate relative, as appropriate. Once a priority date is established in one family-based preference classification, it can be recovered if the same beneficiary gets approved in another family-based preference classification. However, the priority date cannot be ported from a family-based preference classification to an employment-based preference classification, or vice versa.
For example, if a lawful permanent resident files an F2A petition for his spouse and later becomes a U.S. citizen, the F2A approval can be converted into an immediate relative petition. This is one reason why an F2A petition should always be filed even when the petitioner expects to naturalize shortly.
If you become a U.S. citizen after the I-130 petition is already approved, send a letter to the National Visa Center (NVC). Include your relative’s information (name, date of birth, etc.) and a copy of your naturalization certificate and petition approval notice. Once they receive it, they will upgrade the petition and send the beneficiary any additional forms and information that may be required.
If you become a U.S. citizen and your relative’s petition has not yet been approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you should send a letter to the USCIS service center that issued you the receipt notice. Make sure to include your relative’s information (name, date of birth etc.) and a copy of your naturalization certificate and petition receipt notice.
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If the beneficiary’s petition was filed by their permanent resident spouse, the unmarried children of the spouse and beneficiary below the age of 21 can immigrate alongside the beneficiary. However, a U.S. citizen must file a separate petition for the spouse and each child.
In other words, the children were eligible to immigrate as derivative beneficiaries when the petitioning spouse was a permanent resident, but once the petitioning spouse becomes a U.S. citizen, they lost their derivative beneficiary status.
Therefore, if you have not already done so as a U.S. citizen petitioner, you must file separate petitions for each child as long as the child is still unmarried, under the age of 21, and is your natural child or legal stepchild (that is only if, the marriage took place before they turned 18). If the above conditions are met, they qualify as immediate relatives, like the spouse.
As long as the petitioner is the child’s natural or legal stepparent, if a child gets married and the petitioner later becomes a U.S. citizen, it is possible to file a petition in the F3 category.
If the petitioner is neither a natural nor legal stepparent (marriage did not take place before the child turned 18), the child can not immigrate with the alien parent. In this situation, once the alien parent becomes a permanent resident, a new visa petition in the F3 category can be filed.
Children Ages 21+
If the child has turned 21 and no separate visa petition was filed for him/her, you (U.S. citizen petitioner) need to file a new, separate visa petition if you are the child’s natural or legal stepparent. The child will be put in the F1 category that is subject to an annual quota and waiting list. While filing this new petition, it may be worthwhile to request the USCIS to allow you to “recapture” the priority date (assign the old I-130 visa petition priority date). If the USCIS assigns a new priority date, continue writing them letters.
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