Updating a Beneficiary’s Visa Preference Category with the National Visa Center (NVC)

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When I filed a petition for my relative I was a Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holder). I recently became a U.S. citizen. How does this affect my family members?

If you filed a petition for your spouse and/or children when you were a lawful permanent resident (LPR) and you are now a U.S. citizen, the type of immigrant visa that your family members can receive will change. When you become a U.S. citizen, you must submit proof of citizenship to the National Visa Center (NVC) so they can update your family member’s visa category. Scan and save one of the below items as a PDF or JPG file. Then send it as an attachment to the NVC via their Public Inquiry Form:

  • A copy of the biodata page of your U.S. passport; or
  • A copy of your certificate of naturalization.

Effect on spouses and minor children: If you filed a petition for your spouse or minor children (under age 21 and unmarried) while you were an LPR, the visa category was family second preference (F2A). When you become a U.S. citizen, the NVC will upgrade the petition to an immediate relative (IR) visa category. This benefits your immigrating family member(s) because there are no limits on the number of visas that can be issued each year in the IR categories.

  • Important: If the family second preference (F2A) petition that you filed for your spouse included your minor children, now that you are a U.S. citizen you must file new and separate petitions for each child. This is because children cannot be included as “derivative applicants” on a parent’s immediate relative (IR) visa or petition. (This is different from the family second preference petition, which allows minor children to be included in their parent’s petition.)
  • Children born abroad after you became a U.S. citizen may qualify for U.S. citizenship. They should apply for U.S. passports at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate. The consular officer will determine whether your child is a U.S. citizen and can have a passport. If the consular officer determines your child is not a U.S. citizen, the child must apply for an immigrant visa if he/she wants to live in the United States.

Effect on adult children: If you filed a petition for your unmarried adult children (age 21 or older) when you were an LPR, NVC will change the visa category from family second preference (F2B) to family first preference (F1). However, under a federal law called the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), visa applicants can “opt out” of conversion to the F1 visa category and remain an F2B visa applicant. This may be beneficial because sometimes the wait time for an F2B visa is shorter than the wait time for an F1 visa. When you naturalize and become a U.S. citizen, you should check the Visa Bulletin to see if it would be helpful for your adult unmarried child to remain in the F2B category. (Applicants keep the priority date of their F2B petition when it converts to the F1 visa category.) Applicants who want to opt-out of conversion to the F1 category must submit a request using these guidelines:

  • Applicants whose case is at NVC should submit requests using the NVC’s online inquiry form. The NVC will forward the request to the USCIS and change the visa category back to F2B upon receipt of USCIS’s approval.
  • Applicants whose case is at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas should ask the embassy to submit a request on their behalf. The consular officer will forward the request and adjudicate the visa application in the F2B category only upon receipt of USCIS’s approval.

Please note that the process to apply for a visa does not differ between the F2B and F1 categories. Visa applicants still need to pay the required fees, complete a visa application, and submit the required civil and financial documents. The only difference is in when their priority date becomes “current,” which is what allows a consular officer to adjudicate and issue an immigrant visa.