Dangers of Naturalization for Child Beneficiaries


Have you been searching for a naturalization lawyer near you in Virginia? At Fayad Law, P.C., our family immigration and naturalization attorneys can help you file an immigration petition for your children.

Are you a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States? If so, under U.S. immigration law, you might be eligible to apply for some of your relatives, including your children, to obtain an immigration visa, enter the country, and get a green card.

However, if you become a naturalized citizen or your child turns 21, you might encounter issues that will slow down the process. Read on as we discuss the dangers of naturalization for child beneficiaries.

U.S. Green Card Applications for Children: An Overview

As a green card holder, you can apply for immigrant visas on behalf of your family members. The application categories include:

  • F2A: Your spouse and your children under the age of 21
  • F2B: Your unmarried son or daughter older than 21

You must file Form I-130 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to help your children apply to immigrate to the United States. The family second preference (F2) categories have an annual cap of 114,200.

USCIS issues green cards to 77% of applicants in the F2A category per year before allocating the remaining green cards to unmarried applicants over 21. The annual limit means relatively long processing times for family preference applicants, especially those in the F2B category.

What Happens When an LPR’s Child Turns 21?

When the children of a lawful permanent resident turn 21, they no longer meet the requirements of the F2A category. The application process for these individuals would then continue in the F2B category, where waiting periods tend to be longer.

However, in 2002, the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) remedied this situation with an enactment that “freezes” a child’s age on the Form I-130 filing date.

In other words, if you file your F2A child’s petition before their 21st birthday, the child won’t drop down to the F2B category for the duration of the process, provided that you remain an LPR.

The Impact of Naturalization on Child Beneficiaries

The CSPA enactment that freezes your child’s age is only in effect for as long as you are a lawful permanent resident.

What happens when an LPR becomes eligible for naturalization after filing an I-130 on behalf of their family members?

Generally speaking, becoming a citizen can make the process easier for your relatives. For example, if you have already filed an I-130 petition for your spouse, they will become an immediate relative applicant. However, the naturalization process can negatively impact your children’s application, depending on their age.

If Your Children Are Under 21 on Your Naturalization Date

Naturalization typically has no negative impact on the I-130 application of children who are still younger than 21 on your naturalization date. The applications of spouses and children below 21 automatically move from the F2A to the immediate relative categories, which means they are no longer in the waiting line for a green card.

Once the USCIS receives your I-130 petition as a U.S. citizen, the adjudication process will start, and green cards will likely be immediately available to your spouse and younger children.

If Your Son or Daughter Was Already Over 21 When You Filed I-130

If you apply for an immigrant visa on behalf of an unmarried child older than 21, their application is classified under the F2B category. However, your child’s application will automatically move to the F1 subgroup when you naturalize.

The F1 family first preference has an annual cap of 23,400, and the demand for these immigrant visas is significantly higher than for the F2B visas. In this case, your naturalization can delay your child’s application by several years.

In these cases, child beneficiaries might have the option to contact the relevant USCIS office and request application processing under F2B, opting out of the category change. The paperwork involved is complicated, and you should speak with a naturalization lawyer to learn more about what steps you should take.

If Your Child Was Under 21 When Your Filed Form I-130

If you filed an I-130 petition for a child under 21, your child remains an F2A applicant for the entire process, provided that you remain an LPR. However, your child’s application will automatically move to the F1 subgroup when you naturalize. For applicants living in the Philippines or Mexico, these waiting periods can be as long as 10 years.

If you have an F2A child waiting for an immigration visa, your best option might be to postpone your citizenship application. Speak with a naturalization attorney to determine the pros and cons for your family’s situation.

Fayad Law, P.C.: Experienced Naturalization Lawyers in Virginia

If you are conducting an online search for “naturalization attorney near me in Virginia,” consider Fayad Law, P.C. Our multilingual team serves clients in Northern and Central Virginia as well as internationally, and we can help you, too. Our naturalization lawyers can assist you with all aspects of your family’s immigrant visas. We can also represent you during your naturalization interview.

Call (804) 249-4747 or complete our online form to schedule an appointment with our knowledgeable naturalization attorneys. Our offices are located in Richmond and Fairfax, VA.

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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Fayad Law, P.C.
8501 Mayland Dr Suite 101
Richmond, VA 23294
(804) 249-4747