The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has specific requirements for US citizens or permanent residents (green card holders) seeking to bring a foreign spouse to live in the United States as a permanent resident.
In this article, you will discover how to apply for a US marriage-based green card on behalf of your foreign spouse.
What is a Marriage-Based Green Card?
A marriage-based green card permits the foreign spouse of a US citizen or permanent resident to live and work in the United States with immigrant status. Once the foreign spouse becomes a permanent resident, it is possible to apply for US citizenship after three years.
How to Bring My Foreign Spouse to the US as a Permanent Resident – Application Process
Please note that foreign applicants cannot self-petition for a marriage-based visa, as USCIS requires a US citizen or green card holder to sponsor the application. USCIS has similar application procedures for US citizens and green card holders.
If a US citizen wants to apply on behalf of a foreign spouse already living in the United States under lawful status or parole, the first step is to file Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) with Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status).
The sponsoring applicant must submit both forms to USCIS at the same time. If the foreign spouse is not living in the United States, the US citizen must file Form I-130 and wait for USCIS approval.
Once the initial petition is approved, it will be processed in a US Embassy or Consulate located in the country where the applicant’s spouse resides.
Similar to US citizens, permanent residents in the United States must file Form I-130 on behalf of foreign spouses who are already living in the United States under lawful status or parole.
Once the petition is approved and USCIS issues a visa number, it is possible to file Form I-485 to adjust the spouse’s status for a marriage-based green card. If the permanent resident’s foreign spouse is living abroad, the process is the same required for US citizens.
Bringing My Foreign Spouse to the US as a Permanent Resident – Conditional Resident Status
If the couple has been married for less than two years when the foreign spouse receives USCIS approval for permanent resident status, he or she will receive conditional resident status.
Within 90 days before the expiration date on the conditional resident card, the couple must apply together to remove the conditions on residence. Both spouses must file Form I-751 (Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence) within the required period.
If the couple fails to remove the conditions during the authorized period, the foreign spouse’s resident status is terminated.
Do I Need Legal Counseling to Bring My Foreign Spouse to the United States?
The application process for a marriage-based green card involves several steps, including:
- Filling out the required forms
- Handling the necessary documentation
- Paying the application fees
- Attending consular processing (if applicable)
- Going through appointments for biometrics, medical examination, and an interview
- Meeting the deadlines established by USCIS
- Ensuring full legal compliance throughout the process
Relying on the guidance of an experienced immigration attorney is crucial to ensure a successful application process.