What is the process for getting a green card for a spouse?

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2024 | Family Immigration

The process of obtaining a green card for a spouse immigrating to the United States is involves several distinct efforts. This process allows the spouse of a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident to obtain permanent residency.

This is a complex undertaking that has several steps. Understanding everything from start to finish is critical for applicants.

Initial application

The process begins with the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse filing a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form establishes the marital relationship between the petitioner and the immigrating spouse.

Along with the I-130 form, the couple must submit proof of the legitimacy of their marriage. This typically includes marriage certificates, joint bank account statements, photographs and other documents that demonstrate a bona fide marriage.

Medical examination

The immigrating spouse is required to undergo a medical examination by an authorized physician either prior to the interview for consular processing or before submitting Form I-485 for adjustment of status.

Application for permanent residency

If the foreign spouse is already in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa, they can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This is done concurrently with the I-130 petition. This is known as adjustment of status. If the foreign spouse is outside the United States, they will go through consular processing in their home country after the I-130 is approved.

Biometrics appointment

The foreign spouse may need to attend a biometrics appointment for fingerprinting and a background check. This is done regardless of if they are applying from within the U.S. or through a U.S. consulate in their home country.

Interview and decision

For adjustment of status applicants, an interview is typically scheduled at a local USCIS office. For consular processing, the interview is at a U.S. embassy or consulate in the foreign spouse’s home country. During the interview, the authenticity of the marriage is assessed, and the spouse’s eligibility for permanent residency is evaluated.

Approval and issuance of the green card

If the application is approved, the foreign spouse will receive their green card in the mail if they are in the United States. For those going through consular processing, the visa is typically placed in their passport, allowing them to travel to the U.S., where they will receive their green card.

The process can be complex and requires detailed documentation and compliance with various legal procedures. Seeking guidance from someone familiar with immigration matters can be beneficial for those who want to navigate this process efficiently and effectively.