How do Spousal Visas Work and How Long do They Take?

Happy young woman hugging a happy young bearded man from behind, smiling at the camera. Spousal visas are one of the most common ways that people immigrate to the United States. Spousal visas allow a United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident to bring a spouse to the United States to live on a permanent basis. Cynthia R. Lopez, P.C. provides assistance to U.S. citizens or lawful residents in El Paso or surrounding areas and to their foreign spouses. Our law practice helps you understand the rules and will help you go through the process of securing a spousal visa.

How Do Spousal Visas Work?

There are an unlimited number of spousal visas available for husbands and wives of U.S. citizens. However, permanent residents face a limited number of spousal visas available. As a U.S. citizen or resident, you will need to apply for a family-based visa to begin the process. You will need to submit information to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that includes proof of a valid marriage. The USCIS uses two different processes in order for your spouse to receive a visa. Consular processing is used if the foreign spouse remains in his or her home country. However, adjustment of status is used if the foreign spouse is in the United States. Once consular processing or adjustment of status go through, the foreign spouse will be a green card holder.

What Does the Process Entail?

For U.S. Citizens:

In order for you to begin the process, you must file the appropriate forms. Your status as a U.S. citizen or permanent resident affects this process, as well as whether your spouse is in the U.S. or not. Each process begins with you filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. For U.S. citizens with spouses already in the U.S., you also need to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status, simultaneously. Remember, your spouse has to be declared to be lawfully in the U.S. awaiting a spousal visa in order to qualify for Adjustment of Status processing.

For Permanent Residents:

If your status is that of a permanent resident (a.k.a. green card holder), your process also begins with Form I-130. However, you have to wait until a visa becomes available before filing Form I-Silhouette of a young man lifting a young woman at sunset. 485. Your and your spouse have to declare your intentions as soon as possible if your spouse is in the country.  This way, they remain in the country lawfully as they wait for their visa to process. For spouses that are not yet in the U.S. at the time of filing, the process is similar to that of a U.S. citizen. The only difference is that as a permanent resident, spousal visas are limited. As a result, you may have to wait for one to become available.

Getting Help With Spousal Visas

Everyone wants to be with the person they love, especially married couples. Knowing every option for being able to legally bring your spouse to the U.S. is the easiest way to simplify this process. Speak with an experienced immigration lawyer to find out more about this process. If you live in El Paso or surrounding areas and you need assistance with spousal visas, contact Cynthia R. Lopez, P.C. today.