How to apply for a spousal visa if I am married to a green card holder?
The process for applying for a spousal visa if you are married to a green card holder will depend on your specific circumstances, including your current location and your spouse’s immigration status in the United States. Assuming you are outside the United States and your spouse is a green card holder (permanent resident), you will typically apply for a family-based visa. Here are the general steps you may follow:
- Determine Eligibility: Make sure you meet the eligibility requirements to apply for a spousal visa. To apply as a spouse of a green card holder, you must be legally married to the green card holder, and your marriage must be recognized as legally valid in the country where it took place. Additionally, there should be no legal impediments to your marriage (e.g., previous unresolved marriages).
- File Form I-130: Your spouse, who is the green card holder, must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form establishes the relationship between you and your spouse and is the first step in the family-based immigration process.
- Wait for Approval: After filing the Form I-130, you’ll need to wait for its approval. The processing time can vary, and you can check the current USCIS processing times on their website.
- Visa Bulletin and Priority Date: As a spouse of a green card holder, your visa category is in the F2A preference category. Your priority date (the date USCIS receives the Form I-130) will determine when you can move forward in the process. The Visa Bulletin, issued monthly by the U.S. Department of State, will indicate when a visa is available for your category.
- Consular Processing: Once the priority date becomes current, your case will be sent to the U.S. Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing. You will be required to complete various forms and provide supporting documentation. The NVC will then forward your case to the U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country, where you will attend an interview to determine your eligibility for the immigrant visa.
- Attend the Visa Interview: At the U.S. consulate or embassy, you’ll attend an interview to demonstrate the validity of your marriage and your eligibility for the spousal visa. Be prepared to provide evidence of your relationship and answer questions about your marriage.
- Visa Approval: If your visa is approved, you will receive your immigrant visa, which allows you to enter the United States as a permanent resident.
- Entering the United States: Once you enter the U.S. with your immigrant visa, you will be admitted as a lawful permanent resident (green card holder). Your green card will arrive in the mail within a few weeks after your arrival.
Please note that the process and requirements may change over time, so it’s essential to consult the USCIS website and the U.S. Department of State website or consult with an immigration attorney for the most up-to-date and accurate information. Additionally, if you are already in the U.S. with a different immigration status, the process may be different, and you may need to adjust your status instead of going through consular processing.
Checklist of required documents if I am married to a green card holder and live abroad
If you are married to a green card holder and live abroad, you’ll need to gather a set of documents to apply for a spousal visa through consular processing. Keep in mind that the specific requirements can vary depending on the U.S. embassy or consulate where you’ll be attending your visa interview. Below is a general checklist of documents you might need:
- Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative: This form should be completed and signed by your green card holder spouse and submitted to USCIS to initiate the visa application process.
- Marriage Certificate: Provide a copy of your marriage certificate. It must be legally recognized and issued by the appropriate authority in the country where the marriage took place.
- Passport: Your valid passport, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the intended entry date into the United States.
- Birth Certificates: Both you and your spouse’s birth certificates to prove your identities and relationship.
- Divorce or Death Certificates (if applicable): If either you or your spouse were previously married, provide documents to demonstrate the termination of those marriages through divorce decrees or death certificates.
- Passport Photos: Typically, you’ll need several passport-sized photos adhering to the U.S. visa photo requirements.
- Affidavit of Support (Form I-864): Your green card holder spouse must submit this form to demonstrate they can financially support you in the United States. Your spouse will need to provide evidence of their income and, if necessary, the income of a joint sponsor.
- Proof of U.S. Green Card Status: Your spouse must provide a copy of their green card or proof of their U.S. permanent resident status.
- Police Clearance Certificates: Obtain police clearance certificates from every country where you’ve lived for a significant period, as required by the U.S. embassy or consulate.
- Medical Examination: You will be required to undergo a medical examination by a designated physician to demonstrate that you are admissible to the United States.
- Proof of Relationship: Gather evidence of your genuine marital relationship. Examples include photographs together, letters, emails, chat logs, and other documentation showing your ongoing relationship.
- Visa Application Fee: Pay the required visa application fee, as instructed by the U.S. embassy or consulate.
Remember that this checklist is a general guide, and the specific requirements may vary depending on your circumstances and the consulate/embassy’s procedures. It’s essential to refer to the U.S. embassy or consulate’s website for your country to get the most accurate and up-to-date information. Additionally, consular officers may request additional documents or information during the visa interview process. Being well-prepared and organized can help facilitate a smoother visa application process.
How much does it cost to apply for a spousal visa if I am married to a green card holder and living abroad?
The cost to apply for a spousal visa as the spouse of a green card holder through consular processing was as follows:
- Form I-130 Filing Fee: The filing fee for Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, was $535. This fee is paid by your green card holder spouse when submitting the petition to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) Fee: There is no separate fee for the Affidavit of Support itself, but keep in mind that your green card holder spouse (the petitioner) will need to demonstrate financial ability by submitting Form I-864. If your spouse’s income does not meet the requirements, a joint sponsor may be necessary, and they would need to file a separate Affidavit of Support.
- National Visa Center (NVC) Processing Fee: After USCIS approves the Form I-130, the case is sent to the National Visa Center for processing. At this stage, you will be required to pay a processing fee to the NVC. As of my last update, this fee was $445.
- Medical Examination and Other Costs: As part of the visa application process, you will need to undergo a medical examination by a designated physician. The cost of the medical examination can vary depending on the country and healthcare provider. You will also have other minor costs, such as obtaining police clearance certificates and passport photos.
Keep in mind that these fees may change over time, so it’s essential to check the USCIS and U.S. Department of State websites for the most up-to-date fee information before starting your application process. Additionally, the U.S. embassy or consulate in your country of residence may have specific instructions regarding fee payments and accepted methods of payment. Be sure to follow their guidance to avoid any delays in processing your application.
If you’re using the services of an immigration attorney or a visa processing agency, their fees would be separate from the government fees mentioned above.