By Atty. Paul Choi

Paul Choi is an immigration attorney practicing in Encino, California. As a public service, he will answer all questions regarding immigration and naturalization for free either by mail, email at, on the phone, or in person or you may contact his administrator, Philip Abramowitz at 818 714-2226, or The following is one such question and the answer by Mr. Choi.

Question: I was born in Manila and have been in the U.S. for many years. I am still single.My U.S, citizen mother filed an I-130 immigrant visa petition for me in 2000. I have been waiting over 11 years for my greencard but the quota is not yet current. Is there any way to speed up my case? I have a friend from China and she already got her greencard and she was petitioned by her U.S. citizen mother after me. Why is her case processed faster than mine?

Answer: Your question is one of the most frequently asked inquiries about immigration, the quota system. This is a short summary of how the quota system works: Basically, the issuance of immigrant visas is regulated by the USCIS and State Department because there are more persons waiting to immigrate to this country than there are visas available.

Because of this, the government issues immigrant visas on a first-come, first-served basis. This means the sooner you file your petition, the sooner your relative can immigrate to the U.S. This date of filing is called the”priority date.” The Department of State divides the issuance of visas by the type of petition filed. For family based petitions, the quota is broken down into adult children of citizens, minor children and spouses of permanent residents, adult children of permanent residents, married children of citizens and siblings of citizens. Normally, the lower the quota, the longer the waiting time.

The quota is also divided into those countries that don’t have many immigrants to the U.S. and those that regularly have an oversubscribed amount of immigrants seeking to come to the U.S. Unfortunately, the Philippines is perennially listed as an oversubscribed country due to the large demand of its citizens for immigration to the U.S. Mexico, India and China are also frequently oversubscribed and have unusually long waiting lists for immigrant visas. The present visa bulletin showing priority dates that are being currently processed can be accessed on the internet at

The reason why some persons can immigrate faster than others in the same quota is due to their country of birth. A person born in Korea, for example, may be able to immigrate faster to the U.S. than one from the Philippines because the quota for Korea is not as oversubscribed as the quota for the Philippines. As can be seen from the latest visa bulletin, the priority date now being processed for the Philippines first preference, (children of citizens) is 1995, whereas the quota for China, for example is 2004 or a nine year difference. This is a tremendous variance all due to demand.

How can you make your petition go faster? One solution may be to get married, not necessarily to an American, which is a good idea, but to anyone who is not Filipino. You see when you marry a Chinese born person, you inherit his nationality for immigration purposes. This means your petition, now third preference because you are married, will fall under the China quota which is May, 2001. You automatically save 6 years! Does your husband have to be legal? NO. Does your husband need to be a permanent resident? NO.

If you marry an illegal alien from China, your husband gives you his nationality for immigration and quota purposes and you give him a greencard based upon your mother’s petition. Amazing? Sure is.

This little bit of little known magic is called alternate chargeability or cross chargeability. This means that you are charging your visa to the country of your spouse when that country’s quota is faster than yours. In your case, doing this would yield your greencard in just a few months because the quota for married children from China would be current since your priority date is earlier than the 2001 date that is currently being processed.

Your petition would automatically scoot to the front of the line. (It’s almost like jumping to the front of the line at the movies-but in this case it is legal and not frowned upon.

Cross chargeability works on spouses of permanent residents as well as minor children or step-children of permanent residents. It also works on employment based petitions that are filed by employers.

So, if you are looking for a way to speed up your petition, consider if you qualify for alternate chargeability to another country’s quota. It could save you years!


Atty Paul Choi will answer all questions regarding immigration, naturalization and deportation defense for FREE. Contact him at or at 818 714-2226. He is located at 16000 Ventura Blvd, Ste. 1201, Encino, California 91436.