How Long Will It Take to Bring a Spouse to the US?

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Explore the process and timeline for bringing a spouse to the U.S. with The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A. Learn about the key steps, requirements, and how we can assist you.

Bringing Your Spouse to the U.S.: Understanding Spousal Visa Processing Times

If you are a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder and you are married to a foreign national who lives abroad, your spouse may be eligible to obtain a Green Card. However, they’ll need you to sponsor them through the immigration process.

But how long does the entire process take? This question rests heavily on the hearts of many who, like you, yearn to close the physical gap with their foreign spouse. Unfortunately, there’s no clear answer, as the duration of the spousal immigration process depends on multiple factors, including the sponsor’s immigration status, the accuracy and completeness of the immigration application, and the inner workings of the immigration authorities.

Most of these factors are outside your control. However, the one thing you and your spouse can do to ensure that the process is not delayed unnecessarily is to submit detailed and error-free application forms with the proper documentation. This could be difficult to achieve without in-depth knowledge of U.S. immigration law. That’s why seeking help from an experienced immigration attorney early on is crucial.

At The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A., we know what family means to you and can guide you as you take actionable steps to help you reunite with your foreign spouse on U.S. soil.

How to Bring Your Spouse to the U.S.: The Types of Visas You May Need

There are different types of visas designed to reunite U.S. citizens and Green Card holders with their foreign spouses. They include the following:

IR1/CR1 Immigrant Visas

These immigrant visas are specifically designed for the foreign spouses of U.S. citizens. IR1 and CR1 visa holders belong to a special class of immigrants called “immediate relatives” (of U.S. citizens). 

Visas in this class are always available without any restrictions, which means applicants in this category will experience shorter wait times than those in other visa categories with availability restrictions.

However, there’s a crucial difference between both types of visas. The IR1 visa applies to the foreign spouses of U.S. citizens who live abroad and have been married to their U.S. citizen spouse for at least two years. In contrast, the CR1 visa is issued to the spouses of U.S. citizens who have been married for less than two years.

CR1 visa holders are typically assigned conditional permanent resident status and issued a conditional Green Card that is valid for only two years.  On the other hand, IR1 visa holders are assigned lawful permanent resident status without any conditions once they are admitted into the U.S. Their Green Cards are renewable, and they may be eligible for naturalization in three years instead of the regular five.

The (F2A) Family Preference Visa 

This immigrant visa class applies to the foreign spouses of lawful permanent residents. Because these visas are not always available, the application process typically takes longer than the process for IR1 and CR1 visas. 

As a lawful permanent resident looking to bring your spouse to the U.S., it is best to begin the immigration process as soon as possible so you don’t spend too much time apart.

Bringing Your Spouse to the U.S.: A Summary of the Application Process

The immigrant visa application process requires the active participation of you and your foreign spouse. The process typically encompasses the following steps:

Filing the Immigrant Petition

 Like other family immigration applications, the spousal visa application process begins when you (the U.S. citizen or LPR spouse) file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form is used to establish the validity and authenticity of your marriage and must be accompanied by certain documents, including a copy of your marriage certificate.

Because your spouse (the applicant) is outside the U.S., they’ll need to follow the steps for consular processing. This means that the I-130 petition must first be approved before anything else happens.

If you’re a U.S. citizen, you can begin the K3 visa process at this point if you wish to reduce the time spent apart from your spouse.

The K-3 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows the foreign spouse of a U.S. citizen to travel to the U.S. to be with their spouse while waiting for approval of the immigrant petition. It is different from the K1 visa, which is meant for the foreign fiance(e) of a U.S. citizen.

Like the K1 visa, the K3 visa does not confer Green Card status on its holders.

Processing After I-130 Approval 

After Form I-130 is approved, USCIS will forward it to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing. The NVC will contact you and the applicant and ensure you submit the documents needed to process the application at the embassy or consulate.

Once the NVC determines that the application is complete, it will forward the case file to the U.S. embassy or consulate in the applicant’s country of residence for further processing.

The Visa Interview 

The applicant will need to attend an interview at the embassy or consulate. If the visa officer is satisfied that the applicant fulfills the legal requirements, the applicant will be issued an immigrant visa that will allow them to travel to the U.S.

Entering the U.S.

When your spouse arrives in the U.S., the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers will assess their travel documents before admitting them. After they arrive in the U.S., USCIS will send them their Green Card via mail.

How Long Will the Spousal Visa Application Process Take?

Every spousal visa application is unique, making it difficult to estimate how long the process will take. However, USCIS has a handy digital tool to help immigration applicants estimate their application processing times based on past records.

Using this tool, we can determine that most I-130 petitions filed by U.S. citizens for their spouses take a minimum of 14 months to process, depending on whether they are processed at a USCIS field office or service center.

For I-130 applications filed by lawful permanent residents for their spouses, we can see that the minimum average processing time across USCIS centers and field offices to be 25 months.

However, the processing times tool only applies to applications handled by USCIS, which means it cannot estimate the duration of the processes handled by the National Visa Center and consulates/embassies. So, you’ll need lots of patience while you wait to receive instructions from the NVC and the consulate.

Factors That Could Lead to Processing Delays

Besides the administrative backlogs associated with the immigration system, there are other factors that could delay the spousal immigration process.

For example, making a mistake in any of the immigration forms or failing to provide the required documentation at any point could lead to a denial of the application. A denial increases the time you spend apart from your spouse. To move forward, you both will need to rectify the errors and reapply, which would involve additional costs.

Sometimes, instead of an outright denial, the immigration authorities may request additional evidence if you or your spouse failed to submit the required documentation. This procedure adds to the application’s processing time, so it is important to do all you can to avoid such issues in the first place.

At The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A., we understand the intricacies of spousal visa and marriage Green Card applications. We can assess your case, offer insightful advice, and ensure your application is complete and meets the required standards.

While the journey may feel arduous, we know that the reunion at the end of this path is worth every bit of the effort. You can trust us to help lighten the load and work to ensure your efforts at bringing your spouse to the U.S are successful.

Contact The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A., for Help With the Spousal Immigration Process

The journey to bringing your spouse to the U.S. requires a deep knowledge of immigration laws and the workings of the U.S. immigration system. Would it not be reassuring to have experienced hands guiding you through this intricate process?

That’s what we do at The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A. Our goal is to help immigrants overcome the hurdles posed by the immigration system and reunite with their families as soon as possible.

Contact us today for personalized assistance with the spousal immigration process. Together, we can navigate the system to pursue a positive outcome for your family.

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