What is chargeability?
“Chargeability” refers to the allocation of immigrant visa numbers to individuals from different countries.
The U.S. immigration system imposes numerical limits, known as per-country limits, on the number of immigrant visas that can be issued each year to applicants from any given country.
The purpose of these limits is to ensure a more equitable distribution of visas among foreign countries.
Chargeability determines which country’s allocation limits apply to a particular individual seeking an immigrant visa.
- If a person who was born in Mexico applies for a family-based immigrant visa, their chargeability is to Mexico and they will be subject to the numerical limits for that country.
- If a person who was born in China, is married to a person who was born in Indonesia, applies for an employment-based immigrant visa, they may be able to use cross-chargeability. In this case, their chargeability could be to Indonesia, not China, potentially allowing them to benefit from shorter waiting times if the visa demand for Indonesia is lower.
Cross-chargeability is a provision that allows certain family-based and employment-based green card applicants to use the country of birth of their spouse or parent if it is different from their own country of birth, under specific circumstances.
What is cross-chargeability?
Cross-chargeability is a provision in U.S. immigration law that allows certain family-based and employment-based green card applicants to use the country of birth of their spouse or parent if it is different from their own country of birth.
This provision can be beneficial for individuals from countries with high levels of demand for green cards (such as China, India, Mexico and the Philippines), as it allows them to potentially benefit from shorter waiting times in visa categories with less demand.
This provision helps to address the issue of per-country limits for green card allocations, allowing individuals to access green cards more quickly if their spouse or parent are from countries with lower demand for visas.
Examples of cross-chargeability
An immigrant visa applicant can be chargeable to a country other than where the applicant was born, for example:
- A child may be charged to the country of either parent’s birth and the child is accompanying or following-to-join the parent
- A principal applicant spouse may be charged to the country of his/her accompanying spouse. For example, if a China-born principal EB-2 applicant is married to a person who was born in Singapore, both applicants may be charged to Singapore if both spouses are applying for permanent residence at the same time.
- A child may be charged to the country of either parent’s birth if the child was born in a country where neither parent was born or had residence at the time of child’s birth (also known as “missionary” rule).
How do you determine the country of chargeability?
The determination of the country of chargeability for a green card applicant is generally based on the individual’s country of birth.
Here’s how it is typically determined:
- Family-Based Immigration:
- For spouses and unmarried children of permanent residents, the country of chargeability is typically the country of birth of the principal applicant.
- Employment-Based Immigration:
- For employment-based applicants, the country of chargeability is generally the country of birth of the principal applicant.
- In cases where an applicant is using cross-chargeability, the country of chargeability may be the country of birth of the applicant’s spouse or parent if it is different and eligible.
- For DV Lottery winners, the country of chargeability is typically the country of birth of the principal applicant.
- If the principal applicant is married and is including a spouse in the application, they may use the country of birth of the spouse if it is different and eligible.
How to use cross-chargeability to shorten the visa wait time for employment and family-based applications?
The cross-chargeability can potentially shorten the visa wait time, especially if the country of birth of the family member has a shorter visa availability.
Here’s how you can use cross-chargeability to potentially expedite the process:
- Eligibility Verification:
- Confirm that you meet the eligibility criteria for cross-chargeability. Typically, this provision applies to family-based, employment-based applicants, and Diversity Visa Lottery winners.
- Provide Accurate Information:
- Ensure that all information provided in your immigration application is accurate and consistent. This includes details about your country of birth, your spouse’s or parent’s country of birth, and any other relevant information.
- Gather necessary documentation to support the cross-chargeability claim. This may include birth certificates, marriage certificates, and other relevant documents that establish the relationship between you and the family member whose country of birth you are using.
- Submit Correct Forms:
- When filing your immigration petition or application, make sure to use the appropriate forms and indicate that you are applying under the cross-chargeability provision.
- Consult with an Immigration Attorney:
- It’s advisable to consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure that you are meeting all the requirements. Immigration laws can be complex, and legal advice can help you navigate potential challenges.