There seems to be quite a bit of confusion about Follow to Join for DV lottery cases.
Follow to Join (FTJ) is sometimes thought to be a way to allow a family to spread out their immigration processes over time – so a principal selectee thinks he/she can attend the DV interview on his/her own, emigrate to the USA and have his/her family interview at some later date. That is not the correct FTJ process and planning to spread the interviews like that can result in complications and even denial.
So – what is the purpose of “follow to join”?
FTJ for DV cases is solely to provide a way that a DV principal applicant who is already in the USA on some other temporary visa (but without his/her derivative family members) can process the case. The principal selectee can adjust status in the USA, and once that is completed, the derivative family members can be processed at a foreign embassy under consular processing. This is a risky process that should not be attempted late in the DV year. Adjustment of Status (AoS) can take longer than CP cases, and the AoS must be completed before the CP appointments for the family can be held. It is possible for visas to run out in the interim period or the DV year to end which will leave the family divided. The family would then have to go through normal family immigration processes which would take longer and cost more money. So if you are thinking of FTJ, be sure you understand what you are taking on.
The US DOS guidebook (Foreign Affairs Manual) has this information about FTJ.
9 FAM 42.33 PN6.3 Following-to-Join Applicants
DV applicants are informed in the electronic notification of how to adjust status to
lawful permanent residence in the United States. A principal applicant who has
adjusted status may file Form I-824, Application for Action on an Approved
Application or Petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
requesting DHS send the Form I-824, upon its adjudication, to consular posts as
verification of his or her LPR status. Upon receipt of this information, posts must
send any derivative family members instructions for accessing the Form DS-260,
Online Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration, and the Packets for
Immigrant Visa Processing (see 9 FAM 42.63 PN1.2) for completion. Post must
notify the KCC of the adjustment of the principal applicant so that the electronic
case can be modified and transmitted to post to allow visa issuance to the
derivative family members. Proof of the principal applicant’s adjustment of status
must be provided to the KCC. Posts can then process these cases to conclusion,
obtaining additional DV numbers from the Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting
Division (CA/VO/F/I,) as necessary, via VISAS FROG messages (see 9 FAM
Appendix E 300). Spouses and children who derive status from a DV registration
can only obtain visas in the DV category during the specified Fiscal Year.
Applicants cannot follow-to-join after the end of the Fiscal Year.
Thanks to “Mom” for this link!