The Spouse Visa Process: How to Bring Your Foreign Spouse to the United States
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What is a Spouse Visa?
Suppose you are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident married to someone from another country. In that case, you may wonder how to bring your spouse to the United States. The answer is the spouse visa, which allows your spouse to enter the country and become a lawful permanent resident. This article will guide you through the spouse visa process, including eligibility requirements, application procedures, and timelines.
Eligibility Requirements for a Spouse Visa
To be eligible for a spouse visa, you must meet the following requirements:
- You are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
- You are married to your spouse and have a bona fide marriage (i.e. a genuine and legitimate marriage)
- Your spouse is not inadmissible to the United States (i.e. not barred from entry for criminal or immigration reasons)
- You can demonstrate that you can financially support your spouse (or that your joint sponsor can financially support your spouse) once they are in the United States
CR-1 Visa vs. IR-1 Visa: What’s the Difference?
The CR-1 and IR-1 visas are similar in that they both allow your spouse to enter the United States as a lawful permanent resident. However, the CR-1 visa is intended for couples married for less than two years, while the IR-1 visa is intended for couples married for two years or more. The CR-1 visa is a conditional visa, which means that your spouse’s status as a lawful permanent resident is subject to review after two years. The IR-1 visa is a permanent visa, which means that your spouse’s status as a lawful permanent resident is not subject to review.
How to Apply for a Spouse Visa
- Step 1: File the I-130 Petition
The first step in the spouse visa process is to file the I-130 petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form establishes your relationship with your spouse and provides evidence of your eligibility for the spouse visa. You will need to provide supporting documentation, such as proof of your U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status, evidence of your marriage, and proof of your financial support.
- Step 2: Wait for USCIS Approval
After you file the I-130 petition, USCIS will review your application and notify you of their decision. If your petition is approved, USCIS will forward it to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing. If your petition is denied, you may be able to appeal the decision or reapply.
- Step 3: Complete the Visa Application and Attend an Interview
Once your petition is approved, the NVC will send instructions on completing the visa application and provide additional documentation, such as medical exams and police certificates. Your spouse will also need to attend an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country.
- Step 4: Wait for Visa Approval
After the interview, the embassy or consulate will make a decision on your spouse’s visa application. If approved, your spouse will receive a visa in their passport, allowing them to travel to the United States.
- Step 5: Enter the United States and Become a Lawful Permanent Resident
Once your spouse has received their visa, they can travel to the United States and enter the country. They will be issued a conditional or permanent lawful permanent resident card, depending on whether they received a CR-1 or IR-1 visa. Your spouse will need to apply to remove the conditions on their lawful permanent resident status if they received a CR-1 visa.
- Step 6: Apply for Removal of Conditions (if applicable)
If your spouse received a CR-1 visa, they will need to apply to remove the conditions on their lawful permanent resident status within 90 days of the expiration of their conditional green card. This requires submitting a Form I-751 and supporting documentation, such as proof of your continued marriage and joint financial accounts.
- Step 7: Apply for Citizenship (Optional)
After your spouse has been a lawful permanent resident for three years (if they received an IR-1 visa) or two years (if they received a CR-1 visa), they may be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship. This requires submitting a Form N-400 and attending a citizenship interview.
Timeline for the Spouse Visa Process
The timeline for the spouse visa process can vary depending on several factors, such as the workload of USCIS and the embassy or consulate, the complexity of your case, and the country where your spouse resides. On average, the spouse visa process takes around 10-14 months from start to finish.
The spouse visa process can be complex and time-consuming, but it is the best option for bringing your foreign spouse to the United States. Following the steps outlined in this article and providing accurate and complete documentation can increase your chances of a successful outcome.
Our Love Visa makes your immigration process easy, fast, and worry-free, guaranteed. We provide you with complementary tools and resources free that help you plan your future in the United States together. Learn about how OLV is helping couples through their immigration journey.