Many citizens of foreign countries have obtained some type of legal status that allows them to work and travel in the United States. However, these individuals may be lacking an important element of their life back home: their spouses. Bringing a spouse to the United States is not difficult but many steps are required, and the process may require several months to complete.
How to begin
Before any papers are filed in the United States, the couple must have been lawfully married under the laws of the country from which they are emigrating. Same-sex spouses will qualify for a visa permitting them to move to the United States provided that the marriage is legal in their home country.
Filing the petition
The first step in obtaining a visa for a spouse is the filing of a Form I-130, called a Petition for an Alien Relative. If this form is approved, it is passed to the National Visa Center for further processing. The Center will contact the person filing the petition for the choice of an agent to receive all further communication about the case. An agent can be a relative living in the United States, an attorney, or anyone else familiar with the case. At this point, the petitioner must pay the filing and processing fees.
Several additional documents must be filed at this time. These documents include the visa application, an affidavit of support for the spouse, original copies of your marriage certificate, the spouse’s birth certificate, the petitioner’s passport, and any other documents proving that the petitioner is either a U.S. citizen or a permanent legal resident. The emigrating spouse must then obtain a physical exam with an authorized doctor and submit the completed medical exam to the National Visa Center. The NVC will then schedule an interview with the appropriate embassy or consulate. The petitioning spouse must attend the interview and provide any required documents that have not been previously provided.
The Immigration Service will complete the processing of the application and related documents and will then notify the couple if the petition has been approved. If the application is approved, the emigrating spouse will be provided with a passport and an immigrant visa. The spouse will also receive a sealed envelope containing all application documents. This envelope must be provided to immigration officials when the spouse reaches the United States, and it should not be opened before that moment.
As can be seen, the process for bringing a spouse to the United States, has many steps that must be followed closely according to Immigration Service regulations. An experienced immigration attorney can offer significant assistance to the couple during this process.