The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has different solutions for individuals seeking to bring a foreign spouse to the United States. Keep reading to find the best ways to bring a spouse to the United States legally.
Immigrant Visas vs. Nonimmigrant Visas – Understanding the Difference
USCIS has two main visa categories – immigrant visas and nonimmigrant visas.
Immigrant visas apply for individuals entering the United States to live and work permanently. Nonimmigrant visas apply for individuals entering the United States temporarily to work, study, or fill other specific purposes.
As individuals under nonimmigrant status cannot sponsor a spouse or other relatives for lawful permanent residence in the United States, USCIS has specific categories for dependents of nonimmigrant visa holders.
For example, dependents of J-1 Exchange Visitors can bring a spouse to live temporarily in the United State under the J-2 classification, or the spouse of an H-2A temporary agricultural worker can enter the United States under the H-4 classification.
Consult with an expert immigration attorney to identify whether a specific nonimmigrant category permits temporary visa holders to bring dependents under a similar visa.
Applying for a Marriage-Based Green Card – Understanding the Process
Only US citizens or lawful permanent residents can sponsor a foreign spouse to obtain a marriage-based green card. For all cases, the first step is to file Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) with USCIS.
If the petitioner is a US citizen applying on behalf of a foreign spouse living in the United States under lawful status or parole, he or she must file Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status) at the same time.
If the petitioner is a US citizen and the foreign spouse is living abroad, the National Visa Center (NVC) will send the petition for consular processing once it is approved.
The process is quite similar for lawful permanent residents (green card holders). If the petitioner’s spouse is already in the United States under lawful status or parole, USCIS requires the application for adjustment of status with Form I-485.
If the petitioner’s spouse is living abroad, the petition will be sent for consular processing once it is approved, and a marriage visa is available.
Foreign spouses of US citizens are eligible for K-3 nonimmigrant classification while the petition is processing. To apply for a K-3 visa, the petitioner must file Form I-129F (Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)).
Please note that members of the US military have special conditions to apply for marriage-based green cards. An experienced attorney can assess each case individually and find strategic solutions based on the applicant’s circumstances.
Should I Work with a Florida Immigration Attorney to Bring My Spouse to the United States?
If you want to avoid uncertainty and bring your spouse to the United States as soon as possible, it is crucial to work with an experienced immigration attorney in Florida. An expert legal counselor may help clients by:
- Determining for which visa the applicant is eligible
- Anticipating and solving issues that may result in the applicant’s inadmissibility for a visa
- Determining whether the applicant is eligible for asylum, waivers, or any other immigration benefit
- Ensuring the applicants meet USCIS requirements
- Reviewing and handling the paperwork required throughout the process
- Preparing the couple for the interview
- Requesting supervisors and defending applicants against unfair decisions by Immigration officials (if necessary)