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How Cross-Chargeability Rules Can Speed Up Your Green Card Process


“I was born in Mexico. I’m 32 years old. My mother is a U.S. citizen. She filed an immigration petition for me about 11 years ago. My husband, 33 years old, is from Chili. He does not have legal papers. He has no relatives to sponsor him for a green card. He is listed as a dependent spouse on my papers. But I still have a long wait, over 9 more years before I can get a visa and interview date. Is there any hope to speed things up?”

(Submitted by Ofelia Y., Coachella, CA)


As a matter of fact, I think you might be able to speed up the immigration process for both and your husband.  It requires using rules known as the cross-chargeability provisions.

Allow me to explain.

When you mention interview date, I think you’re really talking about what immigration lawyers and officers call a priority date.

Here is a simple way to understand what this means.

A priority date is usually the date your mother’s I-130 immigrant relative petition was filed on your date. This date is like an invisible ticket showing your place in line. When your priority date is current, your ticket has been “called” and it is your turn to file your green card application.

Unfortunately, as you have learned, when you are in certain family visa categories, it takes longer for your priority date to get to the front of the line.

As a married adult daughter of a U.S. citizen, you are in one of the slow categories, one of the slow lines. This is why you have been waiting a long time already, and why you have so much longer to still wait.

However, based on what you wrote, I think there is a possible solution for you.

Since your husband is from another country, you can use his country under what is known as the “cross-chargeability” provisions for priority date purposes. These are little known rules which strive to prevent the separation of husband and wives who were born in different countries.

What Is Cross-Chargeability?

The country of chargeability is the country of the immigrant applicant’s birth.

If the visa is unavailable for the applicant’s country of birth, the visa may be charged to the country of birth of the applicant’s spouse, who is a family dependent.

For instance, your husband’s country of birth is Chili. If Chili is used as the country for figuring out your priority date, you do not have to wait as long as if you continue to use Mexico.

Your visa from Mexico will is not available for nine more years. His visa from Chili is available now.

Why does this happen?

In general, because there are a lot more people seeking immigration benefits from Mexico than from Chili.

For Chili, the U.S. government is already working on cases for married children of U.S. citizens which were filed ten years ago. This means, by seeking cross-chargeability, you and your husband can apply right now under your mother’s I-130 family petition. You can move, quickly, to the front of the line.

This change, of course, does not automatically happen.

You need to provide the U.S. government with concrete evidence that you qualify to use the cross-chargeability provisions to immediately file for permanent resident status.

Naturally, you should discuss this possibility in more depth with a family visa immigration lawyer to ensure you qualify for a green card before filing yours and your husband’s applications for residency.

There are still several other questions which have to assessed, such as when and how you and your husband entered the country. You do not want to overlook these issues. After all, even if you meet the cross-chargeability rules, there may be other requirements which could trip you up.

By Carlos A. Batara, Filed Under Q&As: Family-Based Visas And Immigrant Petitions.

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