Spouses of U.S. Citizens
If you are a United States citizen and you wish to bring your spouse to the U.S. to live as a permanent resident, there are two basic methods you can use. The choice will depend on whether your spouse is currently overseas, or currently in the United States, as well as other factors which you should discuss with an attorney.
IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa: If your spouse is currently residing overseas the first step is to file an immigrant visa petition (form I-130) with United States Customs and Immigration (USCIS). After your petition is approved, your spouse will be scheduled for an interview at a United States consulate in his/her home country before receiving his/her visa. Upon entering the United States, your spouse will become a Lawful Permanent Resident and receive his/her “green card.”
“One-Step” Adjustment of Status: If your spouse is currently in the United States, in many cases you can complete the entire process from within the U.S. by concurrently filing the immigrant visa petition (form I-130) along with form I-485 (application to adjust status to that of a permanent resident). You and your spouse will still need to attend an interview, but rather than being held at an overseas consulate, it will be held at your local USCIS field office within the U.S.
In either case, there are several important factors to discuss with an attorney. The following are only a few:
- You must present evidence to show that your marriage is “bona fide” and not simply for immigration purposes. USCIS reviews all petitions carefully for any “red flags” that may indicate a sham marriage. These can include things as simple as a large age gap, or language/cultural barrier between you and your spouse.
- You (the sponsor) will have to show that you have sufficient income to support your spouse once he/she arrives in the U.S. Your spouse will be considered inadmissible if USCIS finds that he/she is likely to become a “public charge.” As the sponsor, your income generally must be at least 125% of the federal poverty level for your family size. If you yourself do not qualify, you may be able to use someone else (usually a close family member or friend) as a co-sponsor in order to meet the income requirements.
- Your spouse’s eligibility for a visa or green card may be affected by numerous other factors including a criminal record or previous unlawful presence in the United States.
Spouses of U.S. Permanent Residents
If you are a United States Permanent Resident and you wish to bring your spouse to the U.S. to join you, generally you must first submit an immigrant visa petition (form I-130) to USCIS. Once the petition is approved and a visa number is available, your spouse will attend an interview at the U.S. consulate in his/her home country.
Additionally, if you and your spouse were married before you became a permanent resident, he/she may be able to “follow to join” you in the United States through a more simplified process.
If you would like to discuss your options, contact us today to set up a consultation.
The information above is provided for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice.