• Kyle Persaud

Sponsoring a Relative - What happens if a relative turns 21 or changes marital status?

This post discusses


  • What happens if a U.S. citizen or LPR sponsors a relative under 21, and the relative turns 21 while the petition is on file, and

  • What happens if a U.S. citizen or LPR sponsor sponsors a relative, and the relative marries or divorces while the petition is on file.


This post is the third in a three-part series. The first post discussed what relative a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident may sponsor to become LPRs in the U.S. The second post discussed how to sponsor multiple relatives.


  • If a child of a U.S. citizen is under 21 on the day the U.S. citizen files the petition, the child will remain an eligible immediate relative, even if the child turns 21 before USCIS grants the petition.

  • If an unmarried child of an LPR is under 21, and the LPR become a U.S. citizen before the child turns 21, the child will become eligible as an immediate relative on the day the LPR naturalizes. The child will remain eligible as an immediate relative even if he turns 21 before USCIS grants the petition.


Under 21 children of LPRs


Here the situation is a bit more complicated. If an LPR files a petition for his unmarried child under 21, the government first looks at the child’s age on the date the child’s immigrant visa number becomes available. Then, the government subtracts the number of months that the petition was pending. If the result is less than 21, the child remains eligible as a child under 21.


  • Example: An LPR files a petition for his unmarried child. It takes ten months for USCIS to approve the petition. By the time priority date is current, the child is 21 years old. The USCIS subtracts ten months from 21. The result is less than 21 years, so the child may still qualify under the F2A category. However, if the child is 23 years old, the USCIS would subtract ten months from 23. The result is more than 21 years, so, the child would not qualify under F2A, and would convert to the F2B category (for unmarried children over 21). The F2B category has a longer wait time than F2A.


What happens if a relative changes marital status while the petition is pending?


  • If a married child, under 21, of a U.S. citizen, divorces, the child then becomes eligible as an immediate relative, because she is now an unmarried child under 21. She will remain eligible as an immediate relative, even if she turns 21 before USCIS grants the petition.

  • If a married child, over 21, of a U.S. citizen, divorces, the child converts from F3 priority to F1 priority.

  • If an unmarried child, under 21, of a U.S. citizen, marries, the child converts from immediate relative, to F3 priority.

  • If an unmarried child, over 21, of a U.S. citizen, marries, the child converts from F1 priority to F3 priority.

  • If an unmarried child, of an LPR, marries, the child loses eligibility. If the child later divorces, the child must file a new petition with a new priority date.

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© 2020, by Kyle Persaud.