Many married couples decide to move to the United States to start their careers and families. However, in many cases, one spouse will move to the United States and establish themselves before sending for their spouse.
If you are married and recently have become a permanent resident or citizen of the United States, bringing your spouse to the United States may be one of your top priorities. If your spouse is currently living in another country, here is a general overview of the process to have them come to the United States.
Obtaining an immigrant visa for a spouse
United States citizens and green card holders (18 and older and residing in the U.S.) will have to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative with the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The necessary filing fee and all required supporting documentation must be included along with the form. You typically must include:
- A copy of your civil marriage certificate.
- Documentation relating to all your/your spouse’s previous marriages (if any).
- Photos of you and your spouse that meet all requirements listed in the form.
- Evidence of all legal name changes.
- Evidence of your marital relationship (e.g., joint bank accounts or proof of living together).
You must also establish that you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident by providing a copy of your U.S. passport, U.S. birth certificate, or other approved document.
Once your I-130 form is approved, the USCIS will transfer your case to the National Visa Center (NVC), where you will be given a case number.
Your spouse will then:
- File an immigrant visa application (DS-261), pay filing fees, and submit supporting documents.
- Undergo a medical exam with a State Department-approved physician and complete any required vaccinations.
- Attend an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their country.
If your spouse’s visa is granted, your spouse has six months to enter the U.S., at which time, they will become a permanent resident.