Cross Chargeability: Get your Green Card faster

What is Cross Chargeability?

Cross chargeability is an immigration policy that allows certain Green Card applicants to benefit from the less restrictive visa quotas of another country. Specifically, it enables an applicant to be “charged” to a country other than their country of birth, often resulting in faster processing times. This policy is particularly useful for individuals born in countries with high levels of immigration to the United States, where the wait times for Green Cards can be significantly longer.

Eligibility criteria

Primary eligibility

To benefit from cross chargeability, an applicant must have a qualifying relationship with someone from a different country of chargeability. The most common scenario is when a Green Card applicant is married to someone born in a country with a more favorable visa bulletin date. In such cases, the applicant can use their spouse’s country of birth for their own chargeability, potentially speeding up the Green Card process.

Family eligibility

Cross chargeability can also apply to children. If a parent is eligible for cross chargeability through their spouse, the same principle extends to their children, provided they are unmarried and under the age of 21. This ensures that the entire family unit can benefit from the more advantageous chargeability country, simplifying the immigration process for families.

Documentation required

Applicants seeking to utilize cross chargeability must provide specific documentation to prove their eligibility. This includes:

  • Marriage certificate: To demonstrate the marital relationship between the primary applicant and their spouse.
  • Birth certificates: For both the primary applicant and their spouse, to confirm their countries of birth.
  • Proof of parent-child relationship: If applying for cross chargeability for children, such as birth certificates showing the names of the parents.

How cross chargeability works?

Priority dates

Priority dates play a crucial role in the Green Card application process. These dates represent the applicant’s place in line for a visa based on the date their petition was filed. For countries with high demand, the priority date can be several years in the past, leading to long wait times. Cross chargeability allows applicants to use the priority date from their spouse’s or parent’s country, potentially moving them ahead in the line.

Country of chargeability

An applicant’s country of chargeability is typically their country of birth. However, with cross chargeability, applicants can choose to be charged to their spouse’s or, in certain cases, their parent’s country of birth if it offers a more favorable priority date. This strategic change can make a significant difference in the speed of the application process.

Changing chargeability

The process of changing one’s country of chargeability involves a few key steps:

  1. Determine eligibility: Ensure that you have a qualifying relationship (spouse or parent) who was born in a different country with a more favorable visa bulletin date.
  2. Prepare documentation: Gather all necessary documents, including marriage certificates, birth certificates, and proof of the relationship.
  3. File the application: When filing your Green Card application, clearly indicate the intent to use cross chargeability. This is typically done by noting the desired country of chargeability on the relevant immigration forms.

Steps to use cross chargeability

  1. Check priority dates: Start by reviewing the Visa Bulletin published by the U.S. Department of State to determine the current priority dates for your country of birth and your spouse’s or parent’s country of birth. This will help you decide if cross chargeability is beneficial for your case.
  2. Gather necessary documentation: Collect all required documents to support your cross chargeability claim. This includes:
    • Marriage certificate (if using your spouse’s country of birth)
    • Birth certificates for both you and your spouse (or parent)
    • Proof of parent-child relationship if applicable
    • Any other documents required by the USCIS for your specific visa category
  3. File the application correctly: When submitting your Green Card application (Form I-485 for Adjustment of Status or Form DS-260 for Consular Processing), indicate your intent to use cross chargeability. Ensure you include all the necessary documentation and clearly state the alternate country of chargeability on the forms.
  4. Monitor your application: After filing, keep track of your application’s progress. Respond promptly to any requests for additional information or documentation from USCIS or the National Visa Center (NVC).

Common mistakes to avoid

When applying for cross chargeability, it’s important to be aware of common pitfalls that could delay or jeopardize your application:

  1. Incomplete documentation: Failing to provide all required documents can lead to delays or denials. Double-check that you have included everything needed to support your claim.
  2. Incorrect forms: Ensure you use the correct forms and fill them out accurately. Mistakes on forms can cause significant delays.
  3. Misunderstanding eligibility: Make sure you fully understand the eligibility requirements for cross chargeability. Attempting to use cross chargeability without meeting the criteria can result in a denial.
  4. Missing deadlines: Keep track of all filing deadlines and respond to any requests from USCIS or NVC in a timely manner. Missing a deadline can set your application back significantly.

Advantages of cross chargeability

Faster processing times

One of the most significant advantages of cross chargeability is the potential for faster processing times. By changing your country of chargeability to that of your spouse or parent, you can often bypass the lengthy wait times associated with your own country of birth. This can be particularly beneficial for applicants from countries with high levels of immigration to the U.S., such as India or China, where the wait times for Green Cards can be significantly longer.

Increased chances

Using cross chargeability can also increase your chances of receiving a Green Card. Countries with fewer applicants generally have shorter waiting periods, meaning there is a higher likelihood that visas will be available when your application is processed. This can be a critical factor in ensuring that your application moves forward without unnecessary delays.

Case studies

To illustrate the benefits of cross chargeability, consider the following hypothetical scenarios:

  • Example 1: Raj, born in India, is married to Priya, born in Mauritius. India has a significant backlog in Green Card applications, while Mauritius does not. By using cross chargeability, Raj can be charged to Mauritius, significantly reducing his wait time and increasing the likelihood of obtaining his Green Card sooner.
  • Example 2: Maria, born in the Philippines, has a priority date that is several years in the past due to high demand for visas. Her husband, Juan, was born in Spain, where the demand for visas is much lower. By applying cross chargeability, Maria can benefit from Spain’s shorter wait times, expediting her Green Card application.

Potential challenges and considerations

Complexity of the process

The process of applying for cross chargeability can be complex and requires careful attention to detail. Navigating the various forms, understanding the eligibility requirements, and gathering the necessary documentation can be challenging. It’s crucial to ensure that every aspect of your application is accurate and complete to avoid delays or denials. Seeking the assistance of an immigration attorney can be beneficial to guide you through this intricate process.

Risk of denial

There are several reasons why an application for cross chargeability might be denied, including:

  • Insufficient documentation: If the necessary documents to prove your eligibility are missing or incomplete, your application could be rejected.
  • Incorrect information: Providing inaccurate information on your application forms can lead to denial. This includes errors in names, dates, or other critical details.
  • Eligibility misunderstandings: Misinterpreting the eligibility criteria or applying without meeting the requirements can result in a denial. It’s essential to thoroughly understand whether you qualify for cross chargeability before applying.

Changes in policy

Immigration policies can change, sometimes with little notice. These changes can affect the availability and processing of Green Cards, as well as the rules governing cross chargeability. It’s important to stay informed about current immigration policies and any potential changes that could impact your application. Regularly checking official sources such as the USCIS website or consulting with an immigration attorney can help you stay updated.


Cross chargeability offers a strategic advantage for expediting your Green Card application by allowing you to be charged to a different country with more favorable visa quotas. By understanding the eligibility criteria, gathering the necessary documentation, and carefully following the application steps, you can significantly reduce your waiting time.

If you think you qualify, start by checking the latest Visa Bulletin and comparing priority dates. Gather your documents and consider seeking guidance from an immigration attorney to navigate the process smoothly.

Leveraging cross chargeability can help you achieve your immigration goals faster. Take action now to explore this opportunity and expedite your path to obtaining a Green Card.

Additional resources

written by Alexander Alfano
Alexander Joseph Alfano is the Director and Chief Legal Counsel of Financial Legal Group INC. He's a distinguished lawyer in since 1993, specializes in financial services, immigration law, nonprofit corporations, and civil cases.