www.sanjosesun.com - Saturday 10th March, 2018
If you are a U.S. citizen or resident, and you are married to a non-American, you may want to bring your spouse as permanent resident to the United States. But is it possible to apply for a green card for a spouse in the U.S.?
In fact, it’s quite possible. To achieve the goal, all you need to do is verify if you meet the eligibility requirements and prepare several documents.
We are going to discuss several aspects of how a lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen can request a green card for their husband or wife.
The basic eligibility requirement
Let’s clarify the most basic requirement to immigrants to apply for a green card for their spouse. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows only lawful permanent residents and U.S. citizens to do that.
Basically, if at least you have a valid Permanent Resident Card (read: a green card), you can request a green card for your spouse. And if you are a conditional permanent resident, you do not have to remove the conditions on residence before starting the application for your spouse.
Prepare some documents
Depending on where your spouse currently lives, and your current status – U.S. citizen or resident – you will need to get ready several documents.
For a start, you will need to prepare Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, and Form I-130A. The Form I-130 petition is a 12-page document that you must properly fill out and submit with supporting documentation to USCIS. By filing the I-130 petition, you start the process of obtaining the green card for your husband or wife. The entire process can take a few years before your spouse will be allowed to the U.S. as a permanent resident.
The Form I-130A is specifically required by USCIS to collect additional data about spouse beneficiaries. This last form must be completed by your husband or wife if they are already in the U.S.
Besides the two mentioned forms, you may need to also file Form N-485 to USCIS. Form N-485 is an application used by immigrants in the U.S. to apply for permanent residentship. In other words, Form N-485 can be considered a request for a green card. If your husband or wife are located in another country, you aren’t required to apply Form N-485. However, if your spouse is currently located in the United States, you need to get ready this form.
Depending on your status, you need to file Form N-485 either simultaneously with the I-130 petition or later. For example, if you are a U.S. citizen, you can file the N-485 form and I-130 petition at the same time. But if you are a lawful permanent resident, you should wait until USCIS grants a visa number to your spouse.
There are several other documents that you may need to prepare to support your Form I-130 petition. Here are they:
A copy of any document to prove that all your earlier marriages were discontinued. Suggested documents are divorce or annulment decrees and death certificates.
A copy of the marriage certificate.
Your Certificate of Naturalization, Certificate of Citizenship, or a report that you were born abroad. Provide only a copy of your certificate or report.
A copy of a valid U.S. passport or birth certificate.
A copy of your Permanent Resident Card, if available. You can also know this card as Form I-551 or a green card.
Not all these documents you should provide. For example, if you have a Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship, a copy of your passport is not necessary. And instead of the green card copy, you can provide a copy of your foreign passport.
Another document that you need to file to USCIS is Form I-864, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA. Basically, you must prove that you have enough income to support your spouse. Since the U.S. government simply wants to avoid supporting another immigrant, applying Form I-864 is often necessary if you want your spouse to acquire a green card.
Besides the mentioned documents, you should prepare your and your spouse photographs. USCIS requires passport-style photos of two by two inches size from I-130 petition applicants. Lastly, if your name or other data has changed, you must provide additional documentation to prove that. The same concerns your spouse.
What is the processing time for green card for spouse?
USCIS does not tell how much time it will take to grant a visa or adjust status for your spouse. Based on experience, processing Form I-130 can take up to two or three years. But this time frame is relevant only if you are a permanent resident. If you are a U.S. citizen, your spouse can get an immigrant visa without delay. Therefore, if there is a possibility for you to become a U.S. citizen faster than in two or three years, you should first naturalize and then file Form I-130.
To reduce the time necessary for USCIS to approve your application, make sure that you have enough documents. It is best to consult an immigration lawyer to know what additional documents you may need.
Is there a visa interview for spouse?
If USCIS accepts your Form I-130 petition, USCIS will shortly contact the National Visa Center (NVC). If your spouse lives outside the U.S., NVC will require several documents from your spouse, and appoint an interview. Your spouse will need to visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to pass the interview for a visa.
Your wife or husband will have to bring their valid passport to the interview along with other documents requested by NVC. Your spouse should be ready to take fingerprints at the interview.
If your spouse is already in the United States, USCIS may appoint an I-130 interview with both you and your spouse at a USCIS office. If that is the case, you will have to answer several dozens of personal questions, as USCIS wants to verify if your marriage is bona fide. You will be called separately to the interview, and your answers will be compared to find discrepancies.
Can My Spouse Live in the U.S. Before Obtaining a Green Card?
Another important question is whether your spouse is allowed to work or live in the U.S. while the visa petition is processed. Understandably, many citizens and residents want to immediately have their spouse in the U.S. As specified by USCIS, there are two possible outcomes.
Provided you are a U.S. citizen and you have already filed your I-130 petition, your husband or wife can apply for the K-3 visa. This is a nonimmigrant visa, and it allows your spouse to enter the United States earlier than the petition gets approved.
To get this opportunity, you should file another document to USCIS, which is called Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e). This is not obligatory to apply the petition for alien fiancé(e) as he or she may simply wait for consular processing to start. But if it takes too much time, you can use Form I-129F to speed things up.
For lawful permanent residents, it is a bit more complicated. USCIS specifies the following two conditions that must be met so your spouse could move to the U.S.:
You must have filed I-130 petition before December 21, 2000; and
At least three years passed since Form I-130 was applied.
If the conditions are not met, then your wife or husband can only wait for a notification from U.S. Consulate that their consular processing has started. Unfortunately, that is the current regulations in the U.S.
We have reviewed several aspects of applying for a green card for a spouse. Armed with this knowledge, you will know how to help your husband or wife become a permanent resident of the United States.
Get a daily dose of San Jose Sun news through our daily email, its complimentary and keeps you fully up to date with world and business news as well.
WASHINGTON, U.S. - On Wednesday, as details of briefing materials prepared for President Donald Trump’s call with Russian President Vladimir Putin flashed in the media, it left the top White ...Read More