When you’re living abroad and decide to return to the United States, you may not be sure how to bring your partner back with you. The thought of them not remaining with you may be upsetting, so it is important for you to take steps to bring them to the United States legally.
The best way to bring a spouse to the U.S. from abroad will differ based on if you are a citizen or not. Here’s what you should know.
When you are a U.S. citizen bringing a non-citizen spouse home
When you are a citizen and intend to bring your non-citizen spouse to America, you’ll fill out a form called the I-130. This is also known as the Petition for Alien Relative form.
Once that form is approved, it will go through consular processing. After it is processed, the embassy or consulate will be in touch with further processing information.
When you aren’t a citizen and want to bring your spouse to America
You can petition to bring your spouse to the U.S. as long as you are a permanent resident Green Card holder. You’ll fill out the same form I-130 as citizens would. If your spouse is outside of the USA at the time of the application, they will also wait for contact from the embassy or consulate.
What documentation do you need to complete the process?
There are many documents that the United States will require from you and your spouse. Some include:
- A completed form I-130
- Copies of your civil marriage certificate and all past divorces, annulments or death certificates that apply to past marriages
- Passport-style photos of both of you
- Information about name changes, if either of you have changed your named after marriage
If you’re not a citizen yourself, you will have to provide confirmation of your Green Card status and a copy of your foreign passport with your permanent residence evidence. For citizens, proof of citizenship is required.
This can be a complex process. It may be possible to bring your spouse to the U.S. while waiting for the application to be approved, which is something to look into if you are ready to return to the country immediately.