Family Based Petitions
Before you file any
documents, it is helpful to understand that spouse means
lawful husband or wife. In order to successfully
petition for an immigrant visa for your spouse, your
relationship with your spouse must be established and
your spouse must be admissible to the United States
under the immigration law.
A legal immigrant (or
lawful permanent resident) is a foreign national who has
been granted the privilege of living and working
permanently in the United States. There is a three-step
process for your spouse to become a legal immigrant:
- The USCIS must
approve an immigrant visa petition that you file for
- The State
Department visa bulletin must show that a spouse
immigrant visa is available to your spouse, based on
the date you filed the immigrant visa application.
- If your spouse is
outside the United States when your visa petition is
approved and when an immigrant visa number (if
required) becomes available, your spouse will be
notified to go to the local U.S. consulate to
complete the processing for an immigrant visa. If
your spouse is legally inside the U.S. when your
visa petition is approved and when an immigrant visa
number (if required) becomes available, he or she
may use the Form I-485 to apply to adjust his or her
status to that of a lawful permanent resident.
If you are a U.S.
citizen, your spouse is considered an immediate relative
and is immediately eligible for an immigrant visa if
your petition is approved. Generally, if your spouse is
in the U.S. (through a lawful admission or parole) at
the time you file the Form I-130, Petition for Alien
Relative, your spouse may file a Form I-485, Application
to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status at
the same time. For more information, your spouse should
refer to Adjustment of Status. If he or she is outside
the U.S., your spouse will need to go to the nearest
U.S. consulate to apply for an immigrant visa.
Lawful Permanent Residents
If you are a lawful
permanent resident and your petition for your spouse is
approved, your spouse will be notified by the Department
of State when a visa number becomes available. If your
spouse is outside of the United States at the time of
notification, he or she must then go to the local U.S.
consulate to complete visa processing. If your spouse is
inside the U.S. through a lawful admission or parole and
is maintaining that status at the time of notification,
he or she may file the Form I-485 when the visa number
becomes available. If you do not have the visa number
issued by the Department of State, you must wait for a
number to become current. Your spouse may need to depart
the United States to avoid accruing unlawful presence.
If you were married to
your spouse before you became a permanent resident, your
spouse may be eligible to receive following-to-join
benefits. This means that you would not have to submit a
separate Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for
your spouse, and your spouse would not have to wait any
extra time for an immigrant visa to become available.
If you have been
married less than two years when your spouse is granted
lawful permanent resident status, your spouse will
receive permanent resident status on a conditional
basis. You and your spouse must apply together to remove
the conditions on residence. Please note you must apply
to remove conditional status within 90 days before the
2-year anniversary of the award date of your spouse’s
conditional legal permanent resident status. If you fail
to file during this time, your spouse will be considered
out of status as of the 2-year anniversary, and may be
subject to removal from the U.S. For more information,
please see Removing Conditions on Permanent Residence
Based on Marriage.
Can My Spouse
Come to the U.S. to Live While the Visa Petition Is
If you are a U.S.
Citizen, once you file form I-130, your spouse is
eligible to apply for a nonimmigrant K-3 Visa . This
will entitle him or her to come to the U.S. to live and
work while the visa petition is pending. The form to
file for this benefit is Form I-129F. It is not
necessary for your spouse to obtain a K-3 visa in order
to come to the U.S. to live and work. Your spouse may
wait abroad for immigrant visa processing. However,
seeking a K-3 visa can be a method for him or her to
come the the U.S. more quickly.
If you are a Legal
Permanent Resident (LPR) and you have filed for
for your spouse and/or minor children prior to 12/22/00,
your spouse and/or children may be eligible for the V
visa classification if more than three years have passed
since the I-130 was filed.