Being separated by the border is hard, even more so if the other person is your significant other, a husband or a wife. Mexico is immediately south of the border and shares a continental border that is 1,951 miles long, along with an extensive cultural and historic entwinement with the U.S. Despite the geographic and historic proximity, you still must go through various immigration processes for a Mexican Citizen spouse to join you here in the U.S., as a permanent resident.

Other articles on the topic,

If you are a U.S. citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident currently living in the U.S. who seeks to bring a husband or wife into the U.S. from Mexico, this article is for you. My name is Vivid Niroula and I am an immigration attorney based in Oklahoma City. My passion is helping people like you navigate the immigration system and work hard to make the process less intimidating.

To bring a Mexican citizen husband or wife from Mexico to the U.S. you must first file Form I-130 (Petition for an Alien Relative), after the approval of which, the case will be transmitted to the National Visa Center(NVC) whose job is to schedule the visa interview. Before an interview date is set by the NVC, your spouse must file Form DS-260 (Immigrant Visa Electronic Application). Your spouse must then appear for a visa interview at the U.S Consulate General, Ciudad Juarez Mexico; if an immigrant visa is granted, your spouse must enter the U.S. within 6 months from the date of its issuance.

How do I file Form I-130 Petition for a spouse in Mexico?

Filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, is the very first step towards sponsoring your Mexican husband or wife for a permanent residency, also called the green card. The purpose of the Form I-130 is to confirm the petitioner’s citizenship or permanent resident status and to show that a bona fide marriage exists between the petitioner and the spouse. Regardless of whether you are a U.S. citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident, Form I-130, application process, application fee, and supporting documents are the same to sponsor your spouse.

The major difference in the sponsorship process that depends on whether you, the sponsor, are a U.S. citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident is the wait time for your spouse’s visa availability. Congress favors certain family members of U.S. citizens so much that the number of immigration visas given to an immediate relative of a citizen is not subject to an annual limitation, as a result, an immigrant visa is always available.

But that is not the case if you the petitioner are a Lawful Permanent Resident, where Congress sets numerical limitations on the number of immigrant visas afforded to your family members. A citizen’s spouse is considered to be an immediate relative where a visa is always available, thereby significantly reducing the duration of the immigration process. On the other hand, a Lawful Permanent Resident’s husband or spouse is categorized under the second family preference visa group (2A) and must wait for a visa to be available after Form I-130 is approved before they can apply and schedule a Consular visa interview.

You may file Form I-130 online by creating an online account on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website, or you may complete the form and file it via mail. If you decide to file it by mail, you can access and print Form I-130 by clicking here. At this stage of the process, you are basically establishing your citizenship or permanent residency status and the legitimacy of your marriage.

If you are a U.S. Citizen you may submit a birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or an unexpired passport as a supporting document to prove your citizenship. While a Lawful Permanent Resident may submit a copy of their permanent resident card in support of their immigration status. You must also submit evidence that supports the bona fides of your marriage, showing that the marriage to your spouse is legitimate and not entered into to evade U.S. immigration laws.

The bona fides of the marriage can be shown by the marriage certificate, joint bank accounts, joint insurance policies, joint mortgages, pictures of the spouses together, affidavits from friends and family, and any other evidence supporting that the marriage is real and not fraudulent. Along with Form I-130, you the petitioner must also submit Form I-130A, Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary. This form is typically filled and signed by the Mexican Citizen spouse, however, since your spouse is not physically present in the U.S., the signature requirement is waived and you may submit the form on behalf of your Mexican husband or wife with Form I-130.

If you would like a detailed step by step instructions for filing Form I-130, please click here to read another article on that topic.

What happens after the Form I-130 Petition is approved for a spouse who is in Mexico?

After USCIS approves your Form I-130 Petition for a husband or a wife who currently lives in Mexico, the USCIS will send you a Notice of Approval (I-797) and transmit the petition to the National Visa Center (NVC), an arm of the U.S. Department of State. After NVC receives your petition from USCIS, it will then issue your spouse a unique NVC case number and Invoice ID, and notify your spouse via a welcome email or letter that NVC has your petition along with instructions on how to proceed further.

At this point, there is not much you and or your spouse can do other than wait for a visa to be available. If you, the petitioner are a U.S. Citizen, then a visa for your spouse is immediately available making the wait shorter. However, if you, the petitioner are a U.S. Permanent Resident, then you must wait until a visa is available under the second family preference (F2A) for your spouse. You can check if an immigrant visa is available for your Mexican spouse on the visa bulletin by clicking here, to determine whether the priority date of your immigrant visa is “current.”

Priority date, also called receipt date, simply means the date your approved I-130 was filed, and this date can be found on the Form I-797 that the USCIS issued when the petition was approved. If you are a U.S. Citizen, your spouse is considered an immediate relative under the immigration law and therefore you do not need to worry about the visa bulletin. However, if you are a Lawful Permanent Resident, then your husband or wife falls under the second (F2A) family-sponsored preference. Click here, and look for the Family-Sponsored Preferences heading, then under the Final Action Dates for Family-Sponsored Preference Cases locate the F2A row and Mexico column.

If the box that corresponds to the F2A row and Mexico column has the letter “C,” then an immigrant visa for your spouse is immediately available. But if there is a date listed in that box, it means that the visa under F2A for a Mexican spouse is over-subscribed and there might be a wait time. However, if your priority date is earlier than the date on the bulletin, then your immigrant visa is available.

Please note that your spouse can always check the case status, receive messages and manage their case by logging in to the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) using the information on the welcome letter or email from NVC.

What happens to your spouse’s I-130 Petition at the NVC after a visa is available?

Regardless of whether you, the petitioner is a U.S. citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident, after the priority date of the petition is current, or a visa is available, it’s now time to submit fees, forms, and supporting documents. The first thing your spouse must do now is pay two separate processing fees, the Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee ($325) and Affidavit of Support Fee ($120).

You may pay these fees by logging into your case in CEAC and clicking the PAY NOW button under Affidavit of Support Fee or Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee. The CEAC system does not allow you to make a single payment for both fees, so you must make these payments separately, one at a time. It usually takes a week for NVC to process your payment before the spouse can access Form DS-260.

After the payment has been processed, it’s time to submit the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) and Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260). Both you the petitioner, and your immigrant spouse must complete and submit the Affidavit of Support. This document is in essence a contract between the petitioner and the U.S. government stating that you have enough income or assets to support the immigrant spouse and your household at 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. You can check whether you the petitioner have sufficient income at 125% of Federal Poverty Guidelines by clicking here. If your income or asset is unable to reach the required income level, you may request a financial co-sponsor to list themselves as a joint sponsor.

The joint sponsor will be financially responsible for the immigrant spouse if you ever fail to support your spouse after they come to the U.S. If you are not sure what financial evidence must be submitted, you may access the Financial Evidence Assistant by clicking here, to determine the required documents for your situation. After the Affidavit of Support has been filed, it’s time for your spouse to file Form DS-260 by visiting the Department of State’s Consular Electronic Application Center, CEAC website; make sure they have the welcome letter with the case number and Invoice ID handy.

After completion, they must print the DS-260 confirmation page and take it with them to the visa interview. Additionally, after filling out the online DS-260 application, your spouse must collect or prepare civil documents such as birth certificate, marriage certificate, and police records and upload these documents to the CEAC website. Please note that all documents in Spanish must be accompanied by an English translation, including the translator’s certification that the translator is competent and the translation is accurate.

After all required civil documents have been submitted, the NVC will notify your spouse by stating that their case is documentarily qualified and that your spouse is in line for the next visa interview appointment.

How long does it take NVC to schedule an interview after the case is Documentarily Qualified?

The time between the documentary completion of your visa case and the interview notification depends on various factors including the NVC caseload, the Consulate caseload, and local health and other regulations of the country where the Consulate is located. After the NVC schedules, a visa interview for your spouse, you, your spouse and your representatives (if applicable) will be notified of the date and time of the interview.

At the time this article was written, November 2022, it’s highly likely that your spouse’s visa interview will be scheduled at the U.S. Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez. According to the Department of State, in most cases, it takes 90 days from the time your case is documentarily qualified until the interview date, which is subject to change based on the Consular operating capacity.

After you receive an interview appointment letter from the NVC, what should you do?

After your Mexican husband or wife receives an interview letter from the NVC, he or she should schedule and complete a Medical Examination, register for courier service, and collect the required documents for the interview. The Consulate usually sends the spouse an email with instructions on how to schedule the medical examination and register for courier service. Please note that the medical examination is only available if you have a visa interview at the Consulate and can be performed at the clinic in Mexico City (Médicos Especializados Internacionales, MEI) or either of the clinics in Ciudad Juarez (Clínica Médica Internacional or Servicios Médicos de la Frontera).

Your spouse must take their interview letter, passport, and copies of immunization records to the examination clinic and pay the medical exam fee at the exam site. In addition to the medical exam, your spouse must also schedule a biometric appointment online or by calling the Ciudad Juarez Consulate call center at least one business day before the interview date. Please note that the visa interview process may take anywhere from 2 to 5 days or possibly longer, there is no way to expedite this process, therefore your spouse must make the travel and lodging arrangements to Ciudad Juarez in advance to prevent any unwanted issues.

What can my Mexican Spouse expect at the visa interview at the Ciudad Juarez Consulate?

If the Consular has Covid-19 preventive procedures in place, you may be required to wear a mask or take other Covid-19-related precautions to enter the Consulate building. Only the immigrant spouse may enter the Consulate building on the day of the interview. If he or she has any family members or friends who accompany them to Ciudad Juarez, they must stay at the hotel or they may wait in the waiting rooms of one of the two clinics Clínica Médica Internacional or Servicios Médicos de la Frontera.

It’s a good idea to carry light and only take required documents to the interview, doing so and arriving no more than 30 minutes before your interview will prevent delaying your entry. The main purpose of the visa interview is to confirm that your spouse qualifies under U.S. immigration laws to immigrate to the U.S., and therefore he or she must sufficiently demonstrate these qualifications at the interview.

Your spouse must be prepared to answer personal questions including their marital relationship with you, a prior visit to the U.S., visa overstays (if any), and unauthorized employment (if any). The visa officer will likely ask several questions to make sure the marriage is a bona fide one and not entered into for immigration benefit or a fraudulent one. Make sure your spouse brings the interview letter from NVC, an unexpired passport valid for 6 months, a confirmation page of DS-260, photographs, and all originals or certified copies of the documents submitted to the NVC.

If the visa is approved, the interviewing officer will keep the passport so the Consulate may prepare the visa stamp and an immigrant visa packet. The passport and the immigrant visa packet will be returned to your spouse at the address designated by the spouse. The visa packet will contain a sealed envelope which your spouse MUST NOT OPEN, and hand to U.S. immigration authorities at the first entry into the U.S. Your spouse then must pay an Immigrant Fee of $220 to USCIS before he or she travels to the U.S. The fee is used to process the immigrant spouse’s permanent residence and to print his or her Green Card.

Your husband or wife must travel to the U.S. and produce the immigrant visa to be admitted as a permanent resident before the expiration of the visa, which is usually 6 months from the date of visa printing.

Immigration Lawyer OKC

Vivid Niroula is an immigration attorney based in Oklahoma City, who has a solid understanding of immigration laws and who is a fierce advocate for his clients. He assists individuals in all facets of immigration laws and is a dedicated visa lawyer and a green card attorney in Oklahoma. If you are a U.S. citizen or a Legal Permanent Resident whose spouse is currently in Mexico and is seeking the best path to bring your husband or wife to the U.S., call the Law Office of Vivid Niroula at (405) 456-9250, or contact us by filling out the contact us form.