[COLUMN] Did you marry a non-Filipino?

WHEN a person is petitioned by a family member or employer, they are ordinarily processed for their immigrant visa or green card based on the priority dates of their country of birth, not their current country of citizenship/nationality. Therefore, if a person was born in the Philippines, but is now a citizen of another country, such as New Zealand, Australia, etc., they are still subject to the priority dates for the Philippines, where the waiting time is typically much longer than most other countries.

However, there is an exception to this rule: if a Filipino married someone who was born in a different country, the Filipino can use or apply the priority dates of their derivative spouse’s country to their petition. This could result in saving many years of waiting time. In fact, my office was able to successfully accomplish this on several occasions.

For example, I had a case where two Filipino brothers were petitioned by their U.S. citizen parent in the F-3 category (married children of U.S. citizen). One brother was married to a Filipina, and the other was married to a woman born in Vietnam. It turns out that the priority dates (or waiting times) for Vietnam are at least 10 or more years faster than the priority dates for the Philippines.

For the brother who was married to the Vietnamese wife, the priority dates in the F-3 category for married children were already “current,” while there were still many years left for the F-3 priority dates for the Philippines. We were able to utilize Vietnam’s priority dates for that brother, and he and his family were able to immediately immigrate, while the other brother still had to wait many years.

If you are under petition and married to someone who was born in a country other than the Philippines, you may want to consult with an attorney to see whether you may utilize the faster priority dates of your spouse’s country, so you can immigrate to the U.S. years ahead of the priority dates for the Philippines.

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Michael J. Gurfinkel has been an attorney for over 40 years and is licensed, and an active member of the State Bars of California and New York. All immigration services are provided by, or under the supervision of, an active member of the State Bar of California. Each case is different, and results may depend on the facts of the particular case. The information and opinions contained herein (including testimonials, “Success Stories,” endorsements and re-enactments) are of a general nature, and are not intended to apply to any particular case, and do not constitute a prediction, warranty, guarantee or legal advice regarding the outcome of your legal matter. No attorney-client relationship is, or shall be, established with any reader.

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