December 1, 2008: Conversion From FB-1 to FB-3 Category

Conversion From FB-1 to FB-3 Category

My parents are US citizens. I am in India. My category now is F1. Now the National Visa Center has asked for documents. But, now I just got married. What should I do? I am confused about this and what will be my status? If it is F3, how long will it take for both of us to immigrate to the US?
— Anonymous

On the date you married your spouse, your classification as the unmarried son or daughter of a United States citizen (Family-Based 1st preference) was automatically converted to married son or daughter of a United States citizen (Family-Based 3rd preference).

You will only be able to immigrate when a visa number becomes available in the family based 3rd preference category. According to the December 2008 Visa Bulletin, visa numbers are available for India in the third preference category for petitions with the priority dates that are before July 22, 2000. On another note, first preference petitions are on priority dates that are before May 22, 2002. It is important to notify the Service Center where the I-130 was filed and the National Visa Center (NVC) that you are now married by sending both places a copy of your marriage certificate along with a brief statement requesting that they take note of the marriage, and confirm your category change to the third preference. Just because the NVC is requesting documents relating to your immigrant visa as a first preference immigrant does not necessarily mean that you qualify for that category or that a visa is available.

The NVC may have requested the documents because it was under the presumption that you were still unmarried. If you do not disclose the marriage, but instead send in the requested documents and pretend that you are unmarried, and the U.S. Embassy issues the immigrant visa, it will have done so in error and the immigrant visa will be void because the fact remains that you were married when the visa was issued. It appears that your spouse will be able to accompany you to the United States as a derivative beneficiary of the petition.

If you have additional questions or concerns regarding your marriage’s effect on your immigration status or visa availability, you should contact an experienced immigration attorney to review your documents and provide you with specific legal advice.

Michael Shane and Evan Shane, Immigration Attorneys