How long does it take to bring a spouse to the U.S.? Find out here from
How Long Does It Take To Bring a Spouse to the U.S.?
According to data from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) statistical summary, about 50,381 bride petitions were approved in fiscal year 2019. U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) living in the U.S. can obtain a visa or get a green card for their foreign-born spouses and bring them to the U.S. by applying for a marriage-based visa. However, one of several questions often asked is: how long will the process take?
The marriage-based visa, also known as a CR-1 or IR-1 visa, is an immigrant visa that offers the foreign spouse of a U.S. citizen the opportunity to immigrate to the U.S. and obtain a green card based on their partner’s application. The amount of time it will take to complete the process depends on different factors, including whether you are applying as a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, and other surrounding circumstances. If you are unsure how to proceed, it is important to consult with an experienced immigration attorney for detailed guidance.
At Immigration Hero, we are committed to providing experienced legal advice and comprehensive representation to clients in matters related to immigration and marriage visa law. Immigration Hero’s legal staff is available to discuss your personal situation, help you understand all of your available immigration options and decide the best course of action. Our attorneys will guide you through every stage of the legal process, help expedite the entire process and ultimately achieve a favorable resolution.
Marriage-based visas allow foreign nationals to immigrate to the United States and obtain a green card based on the application of their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident partner.
Family-based immigration is one of the most popular ways to obtain green cards. However, the process is not the same for both citizens and those who have permanent resident status. In addition to spouses, U.S. citizens may sponsor immediate relatives and other family members to obtain an immigrant visa and come to the United States.
If a person holds some other type of visa or work permit, there are several ways he or she can bring his or her spouse to the United States. However, only a U.S. citizen or green card holder can obtain green cards for their spouses.
Steps Required When Applying for a Green Card for a Spouse
If the spouse is currently living abroad, outside of the U.S., you must apply through the consular process and the application will be sent to the U.S. consulate in the spouse’s home country. If the petition is approved, you must send the spouse’s visa application to the National Visa Center (NVC) if you are a citizen.
If you are a green card holder, your spouse will be placed on a waiting list for an immigrant visa. In that case, your immigrant visa application cannot be submitted until your priority date is current. When that occurs, it is possible to submit your spouse’s visa petition to the National Visa Center. The application will be processed and sent to the embassy or consulate closest to your spouse’s residence, and an interview will be scheduled.
On the other hand, if the spouse is currently living in the U.S. and has a temporary visa or work permit, then he or she will need to file a Form I-485, known as a petition for adjustment of status.
The immigration and application process involved in obtaining a green card for your spouse involves multiple forms and several steps. It also requires persistence and patience, and you must follow the instructions to the letter in order for your application to be successful.
For this reason, it is advisable that you work with an experienced Austin immigration attorney to get the proper guidance and help streamline the entire process.
U.S. Citizen Applying for a Green Card for a Spouse
If you are a U.S. citizen applying for a green card for your foreign spouse, here are the steps to follow:
- Complete your forms: Obtain and complete Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, and Form I-130A, Supplemental Information for Beneficiary Spouse.
- Submit your forms: Send the forms to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ( USCIS ). Remember to attach supporting documentation and the processing fee.
- Submit a visa application: Once your forms have been approved, submit a visa application for your spouse to the National Visa Center ( NVC ). The NVC will process and forward your file to the consulate or embassy of the country where your spouse is currently living.
- Attend the interview: The consulate or embassy will schedule an interview with your spouse. During the interview, your spouse will answer questions and provide documentation for review.
If the interview is successful, your spouse may travel to the United States within the next six months. They will be allowed to enter after presenting their visa and documents at the point of entry. Your spouse will get their green card a few weeks after arrival.
Spouses of U.S. citizens who have been married for less than two years will only be granted a conditional green card. You must apply for a permanent green card before the conditional card expires.
U.S. Green Card for Alien Spouse
In addition, lawful permanent residents applying for a green card for their foreign spouse will also follow the steps described above. The main difference is that upon submitting your forms and once they are approved, your spouse will need to enter a waiting list for an immigrant visa, depending on your priority date, as we have mentioned. This will depend on your spouses home county.
Form I-130 Instructions
The first and most important step in bringing your foreign spouse to the United States is to complete USCIS Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. To ensure a smooth application and avoid delays, you should do the following:
- Follow all instructions for completing the form to the latter.
- Provide detailed and truthful information.
- Include all required supporting documentation
Form I-130 and instructions for completing it can be found on the USCIS website. The information you must provide includes personal information about yourself, such as a physical description, addresses where you have lived, your employment information, as well as the beneficiary’s relationship to you and whether previous immigration applications were filed for him or her.
An experienced immigration attorney can guide you through the process of filling out your forms and help you gather all the necessary supporting documentation.
I-130 Supporting Documents for Spouse
To complete Form I-130, the following information about you and your spouse may be required:
- Address information for the last 5 years
- Employment information for the last 5 years
- Termination dates of any previous marriages
- Information about any petitions you have previously filed for this spouse or any other foreign nationals
- Any previous immigration processing for a beneficiary spouse
When submitting I-130 and I-130A, you must also provide supporting documents as evidence. You should make copies of your documents unless you are asked to provide an original. In addition, if a document is not in English, you must include an English translation from the person competent to provide it.
You must also provide proof that you are a U.S. citizen or green card holder by providing copies of your documents, such as a passport or birth certificate, or a copy of your green card. You will also need a copy of your marriage certificate. If either of you were already married, that person must provide evidence that the previous marriage ended.
Evidence of name changes should also be among the supporting documents, along with evidence that you have a bona fide marriage. That means showing that you live together, have a child or children, combined finances, or any other evidence that shows that your relationship really exists.
Form I-130A, Supplemental Information for Beneficiary Spouse, provides complete information about the beneficiary spouse. You must provide the following details:
- Information about yourself (beneficiary spouse).
- Information about your employment, both inside and outside the United States.
- Petitioner’s statement, contact information, declaration and signature, if someone helped you complete the form.
- Information about the interpreter, if one was used.
- Information about the person completing the form
- Additional information to support your application.
How Long Does It Take To Obtain a Spouse Visa?
The processing time for a spouse visa depends on whether you are a U.S. citizen or a green card holder (lawful permanent resident).
- A U.S. citizen petitioner can apply for a visa once USCIS approves the Form I-130. Visa processing time is often between 3 and 5 months. Since there is no limit on the number of visas when it comes to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, these petitions are given priority. In some cases, petitions can be processed in as little as two months.
- Lawful permanent residents must wait until a visa is available for their spouse, depending on the priority date and the spouse’s home county. Note that there is often a backlog at USCIS, so your spouse may have to wait about 24 months. You can apply for the visa once the priority date is current. Visa processing time is often between 3 and 5 months.
Obtaining a Green Card for a Spouse
Once your visa has been approved, the file will be sent to the consulate or embassy in the country where your spouse is currently living. Processing time is usually 2 to 3 months. Thereafter, your spouse will be contacted and an interview date will be scheduled.
Total Time Needed for Spouse’s Green Card.
Provided everything is equal and there are no complexities during the application, the total processing time for a spouse’s green card, on average, is:
- About 12 to 18 months for a U.S. citizen spouse green card.
- About 24 to 36 months for the green card holder or lawful permanent resident spouse’s green card.
However, these green card processing time ranges fluctuate depending on global situations (such as the COVID-19 pandemic), which processing center is working on your application, and other factors.