How long will it take to bring a spouse to the United States?

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USA (United States)


How long will it take to bring a spouse to the United States?

U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents of the United States may petition for certain family members to join them in the United States. This is made possible through the family-based immigration program. Family members can obtain a green card, live and work in the United States legally. Learn more about the types of family immigrant visas and the application process

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American citizens with green cards or those who have chosen to marry a foreigner are always worried about the timing of when their spouses will be able to join them for permanent residence in the United States. Even if the spouse is in the United States, they may need to leave to comply with regulations, or they may be abroad at the time of the green card application. According to statistics, Americans most often marry citizens of Canada, Mexico, France, and Spain. Given that this process may involve a divorce, the issue of terms and conditions becomes especially important for couples who dream of a future together in the United States.

Will the USCIS family reunification procedure be expedited?

In the past three years, the impact of Covid-19 on society and the immigration processing process has been marked by a significant lag in historical context. The USCIS is now actively trying to level the playing field. Despite the attempts of government agencies to improve the situation, the bureaucracy needs time to adapt, and it is likely that significant changes cannot be expected until 2024.

When estimating the processing time in 2022-2023 for bringing a spouse to the United States, one should take into account the different processing times for different types of applications. The determining factors are your spouse's residence, immigration status and immigration history, as well as their current place of residence.

Even with careful preparation of the application, the processing time can be negatively affected by bureaucratic processes or improper documentation in an administrative environment. Therefore, it is important to consider different scenarios and take into account the timing in each case.

USCIS application procedure for a US citizen married to an immigrant

The family unification process for a US citizen and his/her immigrant partner depends on their location. If both are abroad, the first step is for the U.S. citizen to file Form I-130. Once this petition is approved, the immigrant can submit an online visa application.

After that, all documents are sent to the National Visa Center (NVC), where they are verified and, if approved, sent to the US consulate in the immigrant's country for further processing. The consulate schedules an interview, and if it is successful, the immigration officer will approve the visa. Upon arrival in the United States, the immigrant will receive permanent resident status.

The total processing time, starting from the filing of the I-130 form, can be from 10 to 16 months, and the entire process can take from 16 to 27 months. It is important to keep in mind that the former K3 visa, which accelerated the process, is no longer available due to USCIS methodological changes. Thus, the use of this visa is probably not the best option in the current circumstances.

USCIS procedure for a lawful permanent resident of the United States who is married to an immigrant

A permanent resident of the United States who has an immigrant spouse and is outside the country faces difficulties related to the immigration application process. There are several important factors and stages to consider in order to resolve this issue.

If the immigrant is outside the United States, the green card holder must file Form I-130 with the USCIS on behalf of his or her spouse. The spouse can file the I-130 visa application online and send the relevant documents to the state's National Visa Center (NVC). The immigrant is expected to wait for an available priority date in the immigrant visa category, which may take some time due to the limited number of visas that are allocated annually.

After receiving an available priority date, the NVC sends the foreigner's spouse for an interview at the U.S. Consulate in the immigrant's country. A successful interview can lead to an immigrant visa. The processing time for the I-130 form is approximately 10.5 to 30 months, and the waiting time for a visa can vary from five to ten months.

However, the exact processing time for an immigration application depends on several factors, including visa availability and the location of the application. A qualified immigration lawyer can provide more accurate information and advice, helping to overcome the complexities and effectively navigate the immigration process for family reunification in the United States.

Family reunification procedure for immigrant spouses seeking adjustment of status

U.S. citizens living in the country with their immigrant spouses need to consider the adjustment of status procedure to legalize their spouse's stay in the United States. During this process, which has its own important steps, it is important to follow the rules and deadlines.

A citizen must file Form I-103 and Form I-485 to request a change of immigrant status. This allows legalizing their status, even in case of an overstayed visa. The immigrant's status becomes legal from the moment the application is filed, even if he or she has already overstayed the visa.

Next, the immigrant must visit the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he or she will be fingerprinted. An interview with an immigration officer is also a mandatory part of the process. If the interview is successful, the immigrant will be approved for a green card, which will open the way to legal permanent residence.

The processing time for an online application for this process is approximately 13.2 months. It is important to follow the deadlines and meet all the requirements to ensure the successful completion of the process of changing status and obtaining legal permanent residence for an immigrant in the United States.

Application procedure for family members outside the United States

Applying for an immigrant visa for family members outside the United States requires applicants to complete several important steps. This process includes a thorough study of the requirements and submission of the necessary documents.

1. Submission of Form I-130. Firstly, a U.S. citizen must file Form I-130 for each member of his or her family. This includes providing documents confirming immigration status and family ties;

2. Obtaining approval from the USCIS. The immigrant petition must be approved by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services before the visa process can begin;

2. Start of the visa process. After receiving approval, the visa process begins, which includes the review of the case by the National Visa Center and waiting for the visa to be available;

4. Payment of fees. The applicant must pay the application fee at a US bank. This includes payment of the application fee and the affidavit of support;

5. Filling out Form I-864. The applicant must fill out Form I-864 to prove his or her financial ability to support the family member by attaching documents proving income;

6. Filling out Form DS-260. The family member must fill out an online visa application, attaching the necessary documents, such as a birth certificate and a police clearance certificate;

7. Medical examination. The family member must undergo a medical examination, including the necessary vaccinations before the interview, by a doctor approved by the embassy;

8. Preparation of documents for the interview. For the interview, you must bring photos and all civil documents submitted to the National Visa Center for review;

9. Passing the interview. The family member will be interviewed at the American embassy or consulate, answering questions and presenting documents;

10. Receiving a decision. The officer will approve, deny, or postpone the application for additional evidence. If the application is approved, the family member will receive information about the return of the passport with the visa and the next steps;

11. Payment of the immigration fee. Once the visa is approved, the family member must pay the immigration fee for visa and green card processing;

12.  Arrival in the United States. Applicants must arrive in the United States no later than the expiration date of the visa, having passed the interview for legal entry into the country. The visa is usually valid for 6 months.

Daria Rogova, Head of Insurance at Visit World

To move, travel or work safely in a new country, you will need health insurance. You can apply for an extended policy on our website here.

Products from Visit World for a comfortable trip:

Checklist for obtaining a visa and necessary documents in the United States;

Legal advice on business issues in the United States;

Travel insurance for foreigners in the United States;

Medical insurance around the world.

More articles on the topic: 

Car insurance for foreign drivers in the USA: what you need to know.
What are the employment opportunities in the USA for foreigners?

The United States needs more migrants to address labor shortages.

Is it legal to cross the U.S. border to seek asylum?

The American health care system: an in-depth guide for expats.

Scholarships for International Students in the USA for 2024/2025.

Temporary increase in the number of H-2B nonimmigrant visas for fiscal year 2024 in the United States.

The best courses to study in the USA: a detailed guide for international students.

Types of health insurance policies in the United States: a detailed guide.

Best US cities for immigrants to live in 2024.

Refugee status in the United States: a detailed guide.

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