Steps to Legalize My Spouse
During your interview, the interviewer will ask you questions about your relationship with your spouse, your daily activities, and your plans for the future as a couple. You should expect additional questions if your case contains facts that could indicate immigration fraud. This includes things like: Your physical spouse visa (also called a « green card » because of its color) will arrive by mail, usually within two to three weeks of approval. The green card allows you to work anywhere in the United States and travel abroad without a separate work and travel permit. This includes the entire duration of the immigration process, from filing Form I-130 to the date your spouse is in America and has his or her green card. When it comes time for your spouse`s immigration, you, as the petitioner, must agree to be their financial sponsor by filling out Form I-864. This clearly indicates your obligation to provide financial support for your immigrant spouse. The spouse applying for the green card must also provide a medical examination report by a physician licensed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration. Medical exam costs can range from $100 to $400, depending on the service provider. If you are a permanent resident and you filed Form I-130 for your spouse and/or minor children no later than December 21, 2000, your spouse and/or children may be eligible for visa V classification if more than three years have passed since I-130 was filed. For more information on V visas, see the V Nonimmigrant Visas page.
Form I-130, also known as a petition for a foreign parent, is designed to prove that there is indeed a valid relationship between you and the spouse supporting you. Filing this form, also known as an I-130 petition, is usually the very first step in applying for a marriage green card with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If your spouse is a U.S. citizen, you typically file your Form I-485 along with your Form I-130. This is called « simultaneous storage. » Like many people, you`re probably wondering how long your spouse`s immigration process will take. The entire process, from filling out immigration documents to applying for an immigrant visa to obtaining a green card, depends on your specific situation. In general, the immigration process generally takes longer for a permanent resident spouse than for a U.S. citizen. Once USCIS has reviewed your entire application, the local USCIS office near you will send you an appointment for a green card interview.
You and your spouse must attend the interview. The U.S. government follows two different processes for determining a spouse`s eligibility for a marriage-based green card. The appropriate process depends on where this spouse currently lives: The spouse receives a CR1 (or « conditional ») green card. Conditional green cards are only valid for two years. Couples must collectively file Form I-751 (officially called the « residency waiver petition ») within 90 days immediately preceding the expiration of the conditional green card to « remove conditions » and obtain a permanent green card. Upon receipt of this form, USCIS will reassess the couple`s marriage to ensure that it is genuine and that the couple did not marry solely for immigration purposes. Keep in mind that these periods are estimates and that your wait time may be completely different depending on your case or changes in immigration procedures and policies. This could be previous immigration issues with you or your spouse, or missing or incorrect information on one of your forms. USCIS will require certain documents to prove your marriage to your spouse who is a U.S. citizen. The marriage certificate, for example, is one of the most important documents you need to submit with this form as a first step towards permanent residence.
If USCIS needs more information or documents to process the application package, they will send a Request for Proof (RFE) to the supporting spouse within 2-3 months. Once USCIS has everything it needs, it will typically make a decision on the I-130 petition within 7 to 15 months, depending on the couple`s situation. The type of green card you receive depends on the length of your marriage to your spouse at the time of visa approval: If you live in the United States and your spouse holds a green card, it takes 1 to 15 months for USCIS to approve your Form I-130. Then you will have to wait until a green card is available for you in the visa bulletin, which will take another 8-10 months. Next, you`ll need to file your Form I-485, which USCIS takes 9 to 11 months to process. Finally, there is the maintenance and approval of your application, which takes another 1-2 months. In total, the total processing time is 29 to 38 months from the date you file Form I-130. The government registration fee to apply for a marriage-based green card is $1,760 for a spouse living in the United States or $1,200 for a spouse living outside the United States.
Note that this does not include the cost of the medical exam, which ranges from about $200 to $500. Boundless has put together a detailed guide that breaks down the cost of a wedding green card based on your situation. The first step in applying for a marriage through marriage green card is to file Form I-130 (the « petition for foreign relatives »). The purpose of the I-130 petition is to establish that you have a valid marriage to a U.S. citizen or green card holder. With the completed form, you will need to present your marriage certificate and documents proving that your marriage is legitimate. For example, you could show a joint lease, joint bank statement, or photos of you and your spouse together from your wedding or after the wedding. Once the I-130 folder is complete, you must send it to the appropriate USCIS address.