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Helping You Make Your American Dream Come True

Helping You Make Your American Dream Come True

Understanding the basics of the spousal visa process

On Behalf of | May 30, 2024

When an American falls in love with someone from another country, the storyline is typically that the couple gets engaged and the foreign fiancé comes to the United States on a fiancé visa to get married. Although this is a common way to maintain the relationship in America, a fiancé visa is not the only route.

If the couple gets married outside of the United States, the U.S. resident could bring their spouse to the United States on a spousal visa. This would allow them to live in the U.S. as a green card holder.

Spousal visa process

To initiate the spousal visa process, the person filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, must be a U.S. citizen or a Green Card holder. For U.S. citizens, they can file with this Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status. In contrast, Green Card holders cannot file this form until a visa number becomes available after filing Form I-130.

If you can prove and establish a qualifying relationship between you and your alien spouse, Form I-130 is likely to be approved. Once approved, your spouse may apply for a Green Card if Form I-485 was not already filed.

Conditions and admittance to the U.S.

If you and your spouse have been married for less than two years at the time they are granted permanent resident status, your spouse will maintain this status on a conditional basis. This means that before the 90-day period before the expiration date on the conditional resident card, you and your spouse must apply together to remove the conditional status. Form I-751, petition to Remove the Condition of Residence must be filed at least 90 days prior to the end of your spouse’s conditional residence.

While your spouse could wait until the petition process is completed and approved, it is possible to get them to the U.S. while the petition is pending. Once Form I-130 is filed, your spouse will be eligible to apply for a K-3 visa. If approved, this visa will allow your spouse to enter the U.S. to live and work while their petition for a spousal visa is pending. In order to petition for this benefit for your foreign spouse, you will need to file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e).

Much like a fiancé visa, the spousal visa process can be a detailed process involving several forms, requirements and conditions. Whether you are seeking to bring a spouse to the U.S. or and determining whether to petition for a K-1 visa or to get married abroad and file for a spousal visa, it is important to understand your rights and options available to you.