Can I Bring My Spouse to the United States?
Whether you can bring your spouse to the U.S. is one of the most common questions KC Immigration Lawyers are asked. Maybe you are lawfully in the U.S., but your spouse has either entered the U.S. unlawfully or is in a different country entirely.
What is your next step? You want your spouse to have a lawful permanent resident status, but if your spouse has been in the country unlawfully, you may face complications with their immigrant visa. What else do you need to know?
Generally, you must be a U.S. citizen or a green card holder to bring your foreign spouse to the United States for permanent residence. The process varies depending on the specific circumstances. If you are considering applying for a spouse green card, the team at KC Immigration Lawyers may be able to help.
What Is the Process When Your Spouse Is Legally in the U.S.?
When your spouse is legally in the U.S., the spousal green card application process is pretty straightforward for U.S. citizens. If your spouse lawfully entered the U.S., you just need to fill out a few forms for an adjustment of status.
The following forms are required:
- Form I-130 petition for alien relative;
- Form I-130A;
- Form I-485 application used to register permanent residents or to adjust residential status; and
- Form I-864 affidavit of support.
Avoid unnecessary delays and possible rejections of the visa petition by filling out the forms carefully. Using the citizenship and immigration services offered by KC Immigration Lawyers to guide you through obtaining permanent residence may make the process toward United States citizenship easier and less stressful.
The Process for Permanent Residents
If your spouse is in the U.S., the process starts when you submit your completed Form I-130 and Form I-130A. If your spouse is in lawful status, they may be eligible to file a Form I-485 to adjust status. Otherwise, your spouse may need to leave the U.S. to wait until a green card becomes available.
There are a limited number of immigrant visas available in a given year. Whether the spouse of a resident can adjust status, or must leave the U.S., depends on the date the forms are filed (called “priority date”). Each month the Visa Bulletin displays whether spouses of permanent residents may adjust status or may need to leave the U.S.
Once your petition’s priority date becomes current, your spouse can obtain an immigrant visa number. The process is different if your spouse did not maintain lawful status in the U.S.
The Process When Your Spouse Is Not Physically in the U.S.
The process is significantly different if your spouse is not physically in the U.S. You should also submit an I-130 form, petition for alien relatives. In addition to this, you need to submit the following:
Two passport pictures of the spouse
A completed Form I-130A for the spouse
If the I-130 form is approved, the National Visa Center (NVC) will take over the process. They collate your case information and prepare your file for the interview. You and your spouse will provide information and upload documents. The NVC will forward the information and documents for consular processing.
The NVC will advise your spouse of the immigrant interview for consular processing:
This typically occurs at the U.S. Consulate closest to your spouse’s residence in their home country.
If all goes well, your spouse will be given an immigrant visa valid for six months. Your foreign spouse may enter the United States as a resident during this time. They will be granted resident status and receive a green card in the mail after arrival.
Can You Petition for Your Spouse While You Are Living Outside the United States?
Although you can petition for your spouse while living abroad, it may complicate things. Therefore, you should be capable of proving to the National Visa Center and the selected Embassy that your actual residence is in the United States.
You need to prove that your time abroad is only temporary and that you plan to return to the United States before or upon the arrival of your spouse.
How Much Can It Cost to Bring a Spouse to the U.S.A.?
Costs for the immigration visa application are dependent on the circumstances of the case. A skilled legal representative can provide additional information based on a review of your spouse’s situation.
How Long Does a Spousal Application for a Green Card Take?
The time your spousal application process takes depends on your case’s circumstances and how long you were married before applying. It can take anywhere from 5 months to 52 months.
If you have been married for two or more years, the green card is valid for ten years, and the renewal process is usually straightforward. If you were married for less than two years, however, your spouse will be issued what is known as a CR1 green card. This green card is a temporary visa with an expiration date of two years from the date of issue.
No more than 90 days before the conditional card expires, the couple should submit a completed Form I-751 to acquire permanent resident status. This is the petition to remove conditions regarding residence. At this stage, the U.S.C.I.S. verifies that the marriage was not solely for immigration purposes before issuing a final ten-year green card.
How an Attorney Can Help
If you want to bring your spouse to the U.S. as a permanent resident, it is possible to handle the matter yourself. However, the process can be pretty complex, and immigration processes change frequently. U.S.C.I.S. has a great website to make the process accessible to many people.
Since mistakes and omissions can lead to lengthy delays and possibly even a rejection of your application, it may be a good idea to consult with a skilled green card lawyer. The skill and experience of qualified Kansas City Immigration Lawyers will enable you to submit with confidence. Your first consultation is free. Call now.