Follow to Join
Spouses and children of U.S. green card holders (permanent residents) are also eligible for a green card. Follow-to-Join is a pathway for family members of eligible green card holders to come to immigrate to the United States.
The Follow-to-Join process is more convenient and much faster than the traditional immigration process for family members of U.S. Green Card holders. Follow-to-Join does not require filing an immigrant petition, Form I-130, for each family member nor waiting for a visa number to become available.
Form I-824 is the Follow-to-Join Application. The formal title of the form is Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition. To be eligible for Follow-to-Join, the principal applicant must have his petition or application for green card status (permanent residence), Form I-130 or Form I-485, approved before he can request Follow-to-Join benefits for his spouse or children.
Green Card Marriage
The Follow-to-Join process is designed to keep families together. To be eligible for Follow-to-Join, the marriage must take place and the children must be born before the principal applicant is admitted to the United States as a permanent resident. A copy your marriage certificate and of any child's birth certificate must be submitted with the I-824 application.
Filing Form I-824 notifies the United States consulate where your family lives that you are a U.S. permanent resident. This establishes that your spouse and children are eligible for Follow-to-Join visas which they then may apply for.
Follow-to-Join is only available to spouses and children of the principal applicant if:
- The marriage took place and children were born before the principal applicant became a U.S. permanent resident;
- The principal applicant became a U.S. permanent resident under the:
- (E) Employment-based category;
- (F) Family-preference category;
- through the Green Card Lottery (Diversity Visa Lottery); or
- was issued a K or V visa.
- The principal applicant has not naturalized (become a U.S. citizen). If the principal applicant has naturalized, then he/she may file a separate visa petition to qualify his/her family for immigration.
Persons who achieved permanent residence through the Immediate Relative (IR) category are not eligible for Follow-to-Join policy but may petition for visas for their spouse or child by filing Form I-130.
Visa for Child
The Follow-to-Join process is only eligible for children who are under the age of 21 and unmarried. Children over the age of 21 or married children may immigrate to the United States if a parent becomes naturalized. In this case they will be eligible to immigrate through the Family Third Preference category (F3).
What is Follow to Join?
Follow to Join is an immigration process for the spouses and children of United States permanent residents. The policy is only valid if the principal applicant has established permanent residence through the Employment-based category, the Family-preference category, the Green Card Lottery, or was issued a K or V visa. Follow-to-Join does not require a separate immigrant petition, Form I-130, for each applicant and does not require the dependents to wait for a visa to become available.
What is an immigrant petition?
An immigrant petition is often required as a part of the process to become a permanent resident, green card holder, of the United States. The two most popular immigrant petitions are Form I-130 for family and Form I-140 for employment. These petitions are the first step to getting your green card. After your immigrant petition is approved, you can file Form I-485 to adjust your status to permanent residence.
How long does it take to get your citizenship?
Once you have become a permanent resident of the United States, you are eligible to become a naturalized citizen after a period of time has passed. Depending on the route you took to permanent residence, the continuous residence requirement will vary. The continuous residence requirement for non-conditional residents is 5 years while it is only 3 years for conditional residents who are married to U.S. citizens. The residence requirement is even less for some members of the U.S. military.