In order to successfully
petition for an immigrant visa for a spouse, the relationship must be
established and the alien spouse must be admissible to the United States under
the immigration law.
There is a three-step process
for a foreign spouse to become a legal immigrant, unless the spouse is already:
- The USCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition (Form
I-130, Petition for Alien Relative) filed on behalf of the foreign spouse.
- An immigrant visa must be available based on the date
the immigrant visa application was filed.
- If the foreign spouse is outside the U.S. when the visa
petition is approved and when an immigrant visa number (if required) becomes
available, the spouse will be notified by the Department of State’s National
Visa Center complete the processing for an immigrant visa. If the spouse is
legally inside the U.S. when the visa petition is approved and when an
immigrant visa number (if required) becomes available, he or she may apply for adjustment of status to that of a lawful
permanent resident with the appropriate USCIS Regional Service Center.
Combined Processing for
Spouses Already in the U.S.
Since spouse of a U.S. Citizen
is considered an immediate relative and is immediately eligible for an
immigrant visa, the USCIS allows for Combined Processing in this category. This
means that if the spouse is legally in the U.S. (through a lawful admission or
parole) at the time of filing the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative,
he/she may also file for adjustment of status
at the same time. Combined Processing is only available to
beneficiaries/applicants who are in the U.S.
Information for Lawful
If a LPR of the U.S. was
married to his/her spouse before becoming a permanent resident, the spouse may be eligible to
receive following-to-join benefits. This means that a separate Form I-130 is not required for the
spouse and there is no additional wait for an immigrant visa to become
If a U.S. Citizen and alien
spouse were married less than two years at the time the spouse is granted
lawful permanent resident status, the spouse will receive permanent resident
status on a conditional basis. That means, the permanent resident status will
be granted for a period of two years. An application to remove the conditions
(Form I-751) must be filed 90 days before the 2-year anniversary of date being
granted conditional legal permanent resident status. For more information,
please see section entitled Removing Conditions on
Can Spouses Come to
the U.S. to Live While the Visa Petition Is Pending?
Once a U.S. Citizen has filed
Form I-130, his/her spouse is eligible to apply for a nonimmigrant K-3 Visa. This
will entitle him or her to come to the U.S. to live and work while the visa
petition is pending. For more information see section on K-3 Visa.
If a Legal Permanent Resident
(LPR) filed Form I-130 for his/her spouse and/or minor children prior to
December 22, 2000, the spouse and/or children may be eligible for the V visa classification if
more than three years have passed since the I-130 was filed.
The information contained in this web page is intended strictly to be used for information purposes and to educate the public in a general manner. The information contained in this page should not be considered legal advice, legal consultation, expressed or implied representation or a formal or an informal retention of this office. To create a formal attorney-client relationship a retainer must be signed and a fee must be paid to this office. Our response to any of your questions, comments, concerns etc. does not establish an attorney-client relationship. By responding to your questions we do not consider ourselves your attorneys. The response to your questions is strictly informational in nature and should not be considered or used as legal advice in any manner. The information contained on this site is general information on immigration laws and issues. The general information that is included in this web page will not cover the various exceptions and loopholes that are prevalent in the Immigration laws. We hope that our web page will educate you and hopefully enhance your understanding of Immigration laws.