You met the partner of your dreams. You propose or were proposed to, and had an amazing wedding ceremony attended by your loved ones. You two have discussed everything from buying a new home and raising children to retiring together. However, there is a small hiccup – your spouse is a foreign national, and he or she is in the U.S. on a temporary visa.

If you are in this situation, you probably have many questions: Can I sponsor my spouse (husband or wife) so they can stay in the U.S.? If so, what steps do I need to take to sponsor my spouse for his or her permanent residence (also known as a green card)? What documents do I need to file? How long will the whole process take? This article is for you if your noncitizen spouse is currently present in the U.S. If your noncitizen spouse is currently not in the U.S. please refer to my other article on that topic.

Other articles on the topic,

My spouse is currently in the U.S.: How do I file their green card?

Congress has placed annual numerical limitations on immigrant visas. However, certain family groups are considered so highly preferred for immigration, that Congress places no numerical limitations. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens fall under this group – which includes spouses, children, and parents of the U.S. citizen. If your spouse is currently in the U.S., the entire process is pretty straightforward. Although a limited number of visas are allocated for some family groups, a visa for a spouse, who is considered an immediate relative, is always available.

First, you must file a petition on your husband’s or wife’s behalf – also called Form I-130. You may file an I-130 petition on behalf of your spouse even if they are currently in the U.S. on a non-immigrant visa; student or visitor visa for example. Form I-130 can be filed online or by mail. You must correctly fill out the form, and enclose a complete list of supporting documents and a fee of $535. If you would like to learn about the documents needed to file Form I-130, please click on the link to read a separate article on the topic.

Correctly filling out and submitting Form I-130 is the first step in establishing your spouse’s eligibility to receive a green card. The USCIS generally approves the petition as long as you can establish that you are a U.S. citizen and are in a bona fide marriage – that it isn’t based on fraud. It’s difficult to precisely estimate USCIS processing time but in most cases, the USCIS processes the petitions in 6-12 months. Since an immigrant visa is always available for the spouse of a U.S. citizen, you may proceed to the second stage immediately after the approval of the Form I-130 petition.

Second, now it’s your spouse’s turn to file a document called Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Your spouse does not have to wait until I-130 is approved to file Form I-485, it may be filed at the same time Form I-130 is filed or while it’s pending. Please note, not you (the U.S. citizen) but your spouse must fill and submit Form I-485. This form is used when the noncitizen spouse who is applying for a green card is currently present inside the U.S.

It’s important to note that a noncitizen spouse filing Form I-485 (adjustment of status) must satisfy certain standards. To be eligible for adjustment of status from within the U.S. the immigrant spouse must have been admitted or paroled in the U.S., not engaged in unlawful employment, and have maintained status for the entire stay. However, even if your spouse has failed to maintain lawful status since entry into the U.S. or violated the terms of his or her nonimmigrant status, he or she may be exempted from the bar to adjustment.

There is an exception to the adjustment bar under the immigration law, applicable to an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen – a noncitizen spouse is considered an immediate relative for this purpose. If you are unsure about your spouse’s eligibility to adjust status from within the U.S. or would like to know if they are exempt from the bar please consult an immigration attorney. In most cases, the processing time for Form I-485 can take from 8 to 14 months.

Finally, after the approval of Form I-485, USCIS will mail your spouse (the applicant) a Form I-551 – also called the green card.

Immigration Attorney in Oklahoma City: Marriage based green card.

Vivid Niroula is an Oklahoma Immigration Attorney serving Oklahoma City Metro area. He prides himself on providing the highest level of service and will help you at every step of the process. Whether you are filing a petition for a family member, renewing your green card, hiring an immigrant worker, or need assistance with an immigration matter, Attorney Vivid Niroula is here for you.

Our practice includes marriage-based green cards, family-based immigration, employment-based immigration, PERM, EB-1, EB-2, EB-3 green cards, and other immigration matters. We respond quickly and our rates are affordable.

Call the law office of Vivid Niroula today at (405) 456-9250 or contact us through our website.