If you are a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder and would like to bring your spouse to the United States, you may be able to do so by applying with the appropriate documentation. If your spouse is already in the United States, the process of getting a Green Card may be different than if they are outside the country.
The way that bringing your spouse to the U.S. works is largely the same for citizens and permanent residents with minimal differences.
When your spouse is inside the U.S. lawfully, you’ll go ahead and file Form I-130 to petition for them to stay in the U.S. as a resident. Then, you will need to file Form I-485 to adjust their status to permanent residence.
When your spouse is outside the U.S., you’ll simply start with Form I-130. After this is completed, you’ll submit it and wait for approval from the consulate or U.S. Embassy.
Green Card holders/permanent residents
Green Card holders may also petition to bring their spouses to the U.S. They will also use Form I-130 to do so. For spouses in the United States, they will need to adjust their status to a permanent residency. However, they will need to wait for a visa number to become available. This may take more time than it would for a U.S. citizen’s spouse. They will also have to show that they stayed in the United States continuously, and with lawful status, to adjust their status in most cases.
If a Green Card holder’s spouse is still outside the U.S., the same form, Form I-130, is used to apply for a visa. They will need to wait for a visa to become available, and then it will be sent to the consulate or embassy for processing.
Can your spouse come to the U.S. before the visa is approved?
As a U.S. citizen, you may be able to have your spouse come to the U.S. sooner than their visa is approved if they are currently outside the country. Since an I-130 can take time to process, it’s possible that your spouse may be able to come to the United States with a K-3 visa, which is something to discuss. This visa is a nonimmigrant visa.