Starting a new life and moving the whole family to the United States can take time.
Many immigrants come to the United States in pursuit of the American Dream and establish U.S. citizenship or get their green card first before starting the process of sponsoring their spouse. It’s usually less expensive and easier to do it this way versus bringing everyone over all at once.
Unfortunately, there is no predetermined amount of time for a US citizen to sponsor a spouse. It depends on the spouse’s current place of residence, immigration status or history, and much more. Keep reading so you have an idea of how long it takes for a U.S. citizen to sponsor a spouse. It’s always a good idea to be prepared.
Keep in mind that if your spouse resides with you in the United States, and entered the country legally, he or she may already be eligible to adjust their status in the US. However, if your spouse entered the U.S. illegally, they might have to go abroad through the consular process first.
What to Expect When Sponsoring a Spouse
Here are a couple of scenarios
If you are living in the US and you are engaged to marry an immigrant from another country, it could take six months or longer for a fiancé visa and another three to six months or longer to get a U.S. green card.
The United States citizen must mail a I-129F visa petition (Petition for Alien Fiancé) to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
After the petition gets the green light, the immigrant must submit their visa application form online and attend an interview at a local US consulate.
Then soon after the interview, he or she will know if they’ve been approved for a fiancé visa to enter the United States. The immigrant will then have 90 days in the U.S. to get married and apply for a green card at a local USCIS office.
Should the green card be approved, the immigrant will be called in for fingerprinting and an interview.
Now let’s flip the first scenario around and imagine if the immigrant is married and living overseas while their spouse is a U.S. citizen living in the United States.
Under this scenario, it would take one to six months or longer to get a Form I-130 visa petition (Petition for Alien Relative) approved by USCIS.
Once that’s squared away, it will likely take another three to six months or longer to get an immigrant visa to come to the US. First the U.S. citizen must file a Form I-130 with the USCIS.
Once that’s good to go, the immigrant will then submit a visa application form online and the required documents to the National Visa Center (NVC).
When the NVC is satisfied with everything, it will send the file to the U.S. consulate in the immigrant’s home country. An interview at the consulate will be scheduled after the immigrant spouse is approved for an immigrant visa, and a green card when they get to the United States.
Common FAQ When Sponsoring A Spouse
Sponsoring a spouse can take time and the process requires a lot of time and patience. Since how long it takes to sponsor a spouse can vary, it’s best to be prepared so the process goes as smoothly as possible. After you’ve set up all the paperwork and documentation for your spouse’s sponsorship application, your next step is to participate in an interview by a visa officer. If you’re not prepared, this can be nerve-wracking.
Here are some commonly asked questions when sponsoring a spouse:
1. Can green card holders sponsor their wife?
Yes. Green card holders can petition for certain family members to immigrate to the United States as permanent residents. These include unmarried children under 21 years old, an unmarried son or daughter of any age, and a spouse. To get a green card for your family member, you must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.
2. How long do you have to be married to get a green card?
Soon after your petition is approved and you submit your visa application form online and attend your interview at a local U.S. consulate with your required documents, you should be approved for a fiancé visa to enter the United States. After that, you will have 90 days in the US to get married and apply for a green card at a local USCIS office.
3. How long does it take to get your green card after applying?
After your spouse’s picture and fingerprints are taken and put on file, USCIS will contact you and your spouse for an interview. If the interview goes well, USCIS will mail your spouse their green card in about 4 to 8 weeks.
Get Started With Your Application to Sponsor Your Spouse
If you have any questions about the US citizenship process for your spouse, contact Neelam Bhardwaj now. An immigrant herself, Neelam Bhardwaj is a professional, qualified and experienced North Carolina immigration attorney. She can answer all of your questions and provide you with a free consultation.