If you are a U.S. Citizen trying to get your foreign spouse to the U.S., you will want to file a family petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and become the sponsoring spouse. You can expect the application process to take about 9 months to 1 year from start to finish.
This may seem like a long time, but when you compare it to some of the applicants who have been waiting for over ten years in the huge backlog of US immigration cases, 1 year is actually a pretty short wait!
You need to start by filing a Form I-130 with the USCIS. The form I-130 is filed in the United States, not overseas.
After you file the I-130 with the USCIS, the next step is to wait. You will wait for approval of the I-130 for about 4 to 5 months.
If your spouse is inside the U.S. already, then after the I-130 is approved you need to apply to adjust the spouse’s immigration status to “permanent resident” using Form I-485.
If, however, your spouse is still overseas (most often the case), then USCIS will send the approved petition to the Department of State’s National Visa Center to wait for a visa number to become available. You will need to wait about 3 months for your visa number to become available, even though immigrant visas for spouses are unlimited, so they are always available.
After waiting 3 to 4 months for your visa number, the National Visa Center will ask you to submit additional processing fees and documents to move your petition forward. After you provide the fees and documents, the case is sent overseas to a U.S. consulate or embassy for final processing.
From this point on, it takes about 2 to 3 months to get an interview and complete processing. The interview is the final stage of the application process, where the foreign spouse will be asked questions and asked to verify documents.
If your application is approved, then the immigrating spouse will be issued a temporary visa that is valid for 6 months, which will allow the spouse to enter the U.S. After entering the U.S. the spouse should be prepared to submit additional documents to request a green card. The green card will be sent in the mail to the address you provide and the spouse will officially be a U.S. permanent resident.
If you have any questions about how to move a spouse from overseas or would like additional information about U.S. immigration, please contact us today and schedule a consultation with one of our experienced immigration law attorneys.