Our client, a citizen of Burkina Faso, came to the US originally seeking asylum. During his time in the states, he obtained work and delivered medication to pharmacies around town. While on the job, he met a woman technician and became drawn to her. Soon later, they began talking and started a relationship, and eventually, the technician became his wife.
The first step on the pathway to obtaining a family-based permanent residence or green card in the United States is Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. The Form I-130 is used by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to establish a qualifying relationship with the beneficiary.
Sometimes, immigration law can be a rugged territory to cruise on. All those filing forms, fees you need to pay, evidence you have to submit, interviews to undertake can make you feel trapped in your immigration case. Therefore, it is advisable to hire a lawyer from the first beginning to lead you through the whole process.
As long as you are a permanent resident of the United States, it is possible to bring your spouse to the US on an immigration visa. Because of immigration visa quotas that apply to permanent residence sponsors, however, the process will take considerably longer than it would take a US citizen. The entire process takes two to two and a half years on average, perhaps a few months more.
If you are a permanent resident rather than a US citizen, it will take you longer to complete the immigration process for your spouse than it would take a US citizen.
If your spouse resides outside the US, it could take 12 to 18 months before he or she is allowed to enter the US. If you are not married yet and you are planning to marry before filing your spouse’s permanent resident application, you might want to consider filing for a fiance visa instead (see below) so that your spouse can enter the US sooner.
If your spouse already resides in the United States, he or she will need to adjust his or her immigration status to permanent residence. It is important that your spouse be in legal immigration status when the application package is submitted and during the entire time the application is pending. The entire process should take about a year or perhaps a bit longer.