Sometimes family members get left out of the immigration process. Costs, logistics, family obligations and other inconveniences can prevent a family member from coming to the United States.
There's no need to worry, though, United States Immigration officials have anticipated this situation. We'd like our friends here in Columbus to make sure they're aware of a potentially helpful tool.
Following to join allows a spouse or child of a principal immigrant to immediately obtain a visa to immigrate to the United States any time after the principal immigrant becomes a lawful permanent resident of the United States. There are, though, some major limitations of following to join.
Following to join is only available to immigrants in categories that give derivative status to spouses and children. Such categories include family-preference immigrants and employment-based immigrants. Further, following to join only applies to preexisting spouses and children. Spouses and children added after an immigrant becomes a permanent resident cannot follow to join. Finally, children can "age out" of eligibility to follow to join.
In spite of the above limitations following to join is far more versatile than one might think. A family member that is following to join doesn't have to literally follow the principal immigrant to the United States. Spouses and children that are inside the United States as nonimmigrants can "follow to join" and adjust status through a principal immigrant, even if they precede the principal immigrant in entrance into the United States.
Considering its limitations, following to join is not for everybody. That being said, following to join is still a valuable and important part of the immigration toolbox. Using following to join to immediately obtain an immigrant visa for a spouse or child is an excellent way to avoid the long waits that can be associated with family based immigrant petitions.