Being separated from your spouse is hard, especially when they are hundreds or thousands of miles away, across the border, or over the ocean. If you are a U.S. citizen whose husband or wife is currently outside the US, and would like to sponsor them for permanent residence, this article is for you. If your noncitizen spouse is currently present in the United States, please check out my other article on that topic.

Other articles on the topic,

You may have met the love of your life while traveling or studying abroad and decided to tie the knot there. Or after getting married in the U.S., your noncitizen spouse returned to their home country. And now, you can’t wait for them to return to the U.S. permanently so you two may live happily ever after. Whatever situation you may be in, this article aims to answer the burning question: how can I help my spouse immigrate to the U.S.?

Filing an I-130 Petition for an Alien Relative who is currently abroad.

The first step towards sponsoring your spouse for their green card is filing a Petition for Alien Relative, also called Form I-130. As a sponsoring citizen spouse, you must fill out and submit this form to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Form I-130 is used to establish your U.S. citizenship and the relationship to the beneficiary. Not required in a non-spousal relative sponsorship but required when you sponsor a husband or a wife is an additional document, Form I-130A. This form is used to establish the bona fides of the marriage and is completed by the noncitizen spouse.

However, if the noncitizen spouse is currently not in the U.S., you, the sponsoring spouse may complete the form on behalf of the noncitizen spouse. Along with the form, you must also submit all supporting documents, two passport-style photographs of both spouses, and a filing fee of $535. For a complete list of required documents to file a Petition for an Alien Relative, please check out my other article on that topic. It’s difficult to precisely estimate USCIS processing time, but in most cases, the USCIS processes the petitions in 12-18 months.

Congratulations, your I-130 Petition has been approved: now what?

Approval of the I-130 petition is only the first step toward your spouse’s green card application. An approved I-130 by itself does not provide your spouse with any immigration benefits — there are several additional hoops to jump through. After the approval, the USCIS submits your file to the National Visa Center (NVC) — this process is called consular processing.

The Visa Center is part of the U.S. Department of State that processes your visa application and acts as a liaison between the applicant, USCIS, and the U.S. Consular abroad. It manages and coordinates the transfer of your case to a U.S. Consular or an Embassy abroad. However, before a visa interview is scheduled, the noncitizen spouse must complete Form DS-260 and pay a fee of $325.

If the noncitizen spouse is unable to financially support themselves, the sponsor must file a Form I-864, called Affidavit of Support. There is a $120 processing fee to submit Form I-864. After you have submitted the required documents, paid all the fees, and undergone the biometric exam, the NVC will schedule an interview at a U.S. Embassy or a Consular. In most cases, the NVC schedules an interview at the local Embassy or Consulate within 3 months. However, the time will heavily depend on the operational capacity and backlog at the Embassy.

The immigrant visa interview has been scheduled: now what?

After NVC schedules an interview, it will notify you (the petitioner), your noncitizen spouse, and the attorney (if applicable) with an appointment letter. Before the interview, your spouse must schedule & complete a medical examination and gather the documents required for the interview. On the day of the interview, your spouse must bring the appointment letter, passport photographs, DS-260 confirmation, and all other supporting documents.

If the visa is approved, the Embassy will notify your spouse on when and how to collect the passport and visa. The noncitizen spouse then must pay a $220 USCIS immigrant fee, and travel to the US within 6 months of the visa date. At the port of entry, a Customs and Border Protection officer will inspect and admit your spouse as a permanent resident. Form I-551, also called the green card will be mailed to the immigrant spouse usually within 6-12 months after entry.

Immigration Attorney in Oklahoma City.

The process of sponsoring your spouse for a green card can be intimidating. You may be unsure of what to expect from the process. You do not have to navigate the legal maze alone. Vivid Niroula is an Oklahoma City-based Immigration Attorney with a solid understanding of Immigration Laws.  He prides himself on providing the highest level of service and will help you at every step of the process.

Call the law office of Vivid Niroula today at (405) 456-9250, or fill out the Contact Us Form, and schedule a free consultation. We can meet in person, over the phone, or via a video call for your convenience.