If you are a U.S. citizen married to a foreign spouse and both of you live in the United States, you are at the right place to learn how to support your spouse in getting an immigrant visa or permanent resident status.
After you learned everything about the permanent resident card process (if not, don’t worry, you can read our guide here), we prepared another one, for foreign spouses who live in the United States. This guide will walk you through the process of applying for a spousal visa (green card) when your spouse is already in the United States.
Once you are ready to apply for an immigrant visa, you can contact us. Herman Legal Group can assess your case and accordingly guide you through every phase of the marriage-based green card process, ensuring that your spouse becomes a permanent resident timely.
‘Concurrent filing’ — the quick route to a spousal green card
The Immigration and Naturalization Act ( INA §319(a) ) describes the provisions for the spouses of U.S. citizens who want to become U.S. permanent residents.
In some instances, immigrant petitions and Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence, or Application for Adjustment of Status can be filed simultaneously, also known as “concurrent filing.” It allows you to file the adjustment of status application at the same time when your sponsor files the immigrant petition.
Foreign spouses who came to the United States to live are eligible to apply by using this route. If they stay abroad and want to become permanent residents, they can use consular processing.
As an immediate relative and a spouse of a U.S. citizen who lives in the United States, you are eligible to apply for a spousal visa using this route because there is no numerical limitation in this immediate relatives category.
This means that the adjustment of the status application of your spouse can be concurrently filed along with Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.
How to Apply for a Green Card from the United States
Properly filing your visa application package for your spouse and their children is a crucial condition to successfully obtaining permanent resident status. Here are steps that you need to undertake, but remember that Herman Legal Group can also guide your through each milestone of the process if you need support and want to ensure.
If your foreign spouse has children born abroad, they can also qualify for U.S. citizenship and can apply for a U.S. passport.
Prepare Your Green Card Application and Supporting Documents
Step 1: Prepare the Green Card Petition
Since you are a U.S. citizen and your foreign spouse is already in the United States, you can save time and combine two parts of the process. As we already mentioned, “concurrent filing” allows you to file your green card application and additional documents in a single package with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the government agency that handles these applications and forwards them later on to the National Visa Center NVC. National Visa Center NVC will contact you and your spouse (and /or children if applied) with detailed instructions on what additional forms and additional documents you have to submit.
The main package that you have to file includes:
- Form I-130, “Petition for Alien Relative,” to establish the marriage relationship
- Form I-485, “Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status,” the application for the green card
Get a medical exam
A foreign spouse has to complete a medical exam by visiting the USCIS doctor. You can attend the appointment before you file your visa application and then include the exam with your application.
The other option is to submit your medical exam after submitting your application. Some people prefer bringing the results with them to the green card interview so you can do it, too, but it is desirable to submit it before.
File the application
When you complete your spousal visa, the application package must include the following forms, supporting documents, and payment for the government fee.
Your complete spousal green card application packages sent to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) includes the following forms as part of it:
- Family sponsorship form (I-130)
- Supplemental information form (I-130A)
- Green card application form (I-485)
- Financial support form (I-864)
- Declaration of self-sufficiency form (I-944)
If the spouse applying for a marriage-based green card wants to work in the U.S. or travel abroad, you need to include the following forms with your application package:
- Work permit (form I-765)
- Travel permit (form I-131)
In order to process your application package, you must pay the following government fees:
- $535 – Form I-130
- $1,140 – Form I-485
- $85 – biometrics (fingerprints and photo)
In total, you must pay $1,760 of government costs.
Oher forms as the work permit application, travel permit application, declaration of self-sufficiency, and financial support form do not require additional government fees.
When you prepare your green card application package, you will have to mail it to the appropriate USCIS address. USCIS takes about two weeks to send you. “receipt numbers.”
Approval of the travel permit and work permit takes around five months, and in some cases, it may take even longer.
Attending your biometrics appointment
In about one month after USCSIS receives your application package, USCIS will send you a biometrics appointment notice to attend at the USCIS field office closest to where you live. The list of Here, USCIS will simply take your fingerprints and photographs of the spouse seeking a green card to conduct background and security checks.
Step 2: Marriage Green Card Interview and Application Approval
Attending your marriage-based green card interview
When USCIS completes all the background processing of your visa petition materials, it transfers your file is to the nearest USCIS field office. The local office (find the exact location on USCIS’s official website here) will send you an appointment notice with the exact time, date, and location you and your spouse need to attend the interview.
Prepare for the Interview
Meeting the interviewing officer is the last big step in the application process, so get prepared! The more you learn and practice for it, the less stressful it will be to you. Whatsmore, you may find it exciting and joyful. So learn what you can expect at the interview.
Provide Honest Questions
A USCIS officer will conduct the interview and ask you a set of questions to check the information you provided and assess whether your marriage is bona fide and not fraudulent and entered only for immigration purposes.
Get the Approval
Once the USCIS officer is satisfied with your complete application package and the additional answers you provided, they may approve your spousal visa application on the spot. Otherwise, you may expect to receive RFE or NOID.
Receiving your immigrant visa (green card)
Your immigrant visa- the green card will arrive by mail, usually within two to three weeks of approval. The green card allows you to work anywhere in the United States. Also, once you obtain a green card, you can take international trips without separate work and travel permits.
But, not all foreigners receive the same type of green card. It depends on how long you and your spouse have been married at the time of visa approval.
If you’ve been in marriage for less than two years
If you have been married for less than two years, your green card will be marked “CR1” or “conditional residence” and you will get a resident card.” To remove the conditions on residence and become a permanent resident, you and your spouse must jointly file another form to show that your marriage is authentic.
For this purpose, you and your spouse must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence. After government officials are sufficiently convinced, your spouse will get a permanent residents satus.
If you’ve been in marriage for more than two years
If you have been married for more than two years, your green card will be marked “IR1” for “immediate relative green card,” also known as “permanent green card.” This visa is valid for ten years, and renewal is typically simple.
How long does it take to get a Marriage Green when you are married to a U.S. Citizen?
Approximately processing the petition of your spouse and getting a marriage green card may take 8-11 months for USCIS to process it, plus 1-2 months to schedule the date for the interview. This is a shorter route than using a consular processing.
What is the Cost of a Spousal Green Card?
The government fees are $1,760, and the fee for a medical exam is $200. So, in total, the application costs are $1,960.
How We Can Help You?
With more than 22 years of experience in immigration matters, Richard Herman has helped a number of foreign nationals obtain permanent resident status and come to the United States to live with their spouses and children here.
Book your free online consultation via Skype, WhatsApp, or ZOOM, or call us for a telephone consultation +1-800-808-4013.
Also, if you find it more convenient, use the online form to request your consultation with us and discuss how to get a green card for you or your spouse.