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Bringing a Spouses of a U.S. Citizen to Live in
the United States as Permanent Residents (Green Card)

"Our office has assisted many thousand of couples in applying for a Green Card through marriage. 
We have also succeeded in hundreds of 601 waiver cases for people that have either entered the U.S. illegaly or overstayed their visa."

Eligibility to file for your spouse

In order for a U.S. citizen or someone with a Green Card to obtain a Green Card (lawful permanent residency) for his or her spouse  to live in the United States there are certain hudles that have be be overcome.


Spouse  of A U.S. Citizen Residing Inside The United States - Adjustment of Status

The spouse of a United States citizen can qualify for "adjustment of Status" and be granted a "Green Card" while in the United States as an “immediate relative” immigrant. This can be done only if the spouse: 

(1) entered with a visa, visa waiver program, paroled into the United States or

(2) The qualify under Section 245(i) of the adjust of status law, that is:

  1. if they entered illegally or are out of status an application for immigrant status  with the USCIS was filed before 4/30/01 or with the department of labor for Labor Certification before 4/30/01 or

  2. they were derivative beneficiary of a parents petition.
  3. All other spouse of U.S. Citizens that either entered illegally in the United may have to apply for a waiver of the 3/10-year bar and will require consular processing and an I-601 waiver.

In order to receive the Green Card and be granted permanent residency, an adjustment of Status application is filed with the local USCIS office having jurisdiction over the Petitioner's residence. The packet is generally filed with an application for Employment Authorization and if desired with a permission to travel during the process (Advance Parole), if they have not been out of status for a period of over 6 months on the date of filing. A few months later a notice is sent directing the applicant to (1) appear for processing of the employment authorization (EAD) (2) take fingerprints (3) appear for the adjustment interview. On the date of the adjustment interview you should be granted a permanent Immigrant Visa (Green Card). The spouse  may file for U.S. citizenship 3 years after the approval of the Permanent Visa (Green Card).

Spouse of A U.S. Citizen Living Outside The United States

The first step in establishing your eligibility to immigrate to the United States is to have your U.S. citizen spouse file an Immigrant Visa Petition with the office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration  Service (USCIS) having jurisdiction over his/her place of residence.  

Petitions Required to be Filed in the U.S.File the I-130 petitions at the USCIS Service Center having jurisdiction over their place of U.S. residence.

Filing Petitions Abroad - There limited instances where filing Form I-130 at a U.S. Consulate is alllowed. Petitions, These are limited to Petitions for immediate relative immigrant or 1st preference petition classifications can be filed abroad by American citizen petitioners who have been permitted to be continuously resident in their consular districts for at least the prior six months, including members of the U.S. armed forces, emergency cases involving life and death or health and safety, and others determined to be in the national interest. These petitions are filed with USCIS abroad or at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate (when there is no USCIS presence).

Filing Petitions in the United States -  If the U.S. citizen spouse resides in the U.S., s/he should file with the USCIS office having jurisdiction over his/her place of residence in the United States. The processing can take several months. Once approved, the USCIS will send the approved petition to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing.

NVC plays a pivotal role in the U.S. immigration process.  NVC provides instructions to petitioners and sponsors, and receives from sponsors, the required Affidavit of Support forms, fees, other required documents, and much more. 

The NVC will send the petitioner a package with forms to prepare and a list of documents required. This package contains all the vital information needed to approve the Permanent Visa (Green Card). The completed package is mailed to the U.S. consulate were the spouse resides.

It is the U.S. Consulate will notifies the applicants of the interview date and the address for the medical exam and fingerprints.

Accompanying Children

If the child of the spouse of the United States citizen has a child and if their marriage occurred prior to the child’s 18th birthday, the U.S. citizen can file a separate petition as a stepfather of the wife’s child.and the child will also be granted a "Green Card."  The child’s case will be processed similarly to the mother.

How to Bring your Spouse to the United States
Filing for a Green Card

You are a:

Your spouse is:

How to Apply

U.S. citizen

Inside the United States (through lawful admission or parole)

File Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, and Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status, at the same time.  See form instructions for more information.

Outside the United States

File Form I-130. If you are a U.S. citizen residing in Canada, you may file the petition at the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate, except for those in Quebec City. If you reside elsewhere outside the United States, file your relative petition at the USCIS office overseas or the U.S. Embassy or consulate having jurisdiction over the area where you live. For further information, contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate.

When the Form I-130 is approved, it will be sent for consular processing and the consulate or embassy will provide notification and processing information. See form instructions for more information.



Conditional Residence and Removing Conditions in order to get a permanent Green card

If you have been married less than 2 years when your spouse is granted permanent resident status, your spouse will receive permanent resident status on a conditional basis. To remove the conditions on residence, you and your spouse must apply together using Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence. (Note that Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, is not used for this purpose.)

You must apply to remove conditional status within the 90-day period before the expiration date on the conditional resident card. If you fail to file during this time, your spouse’s resident status will be terminated and he or she may be subject to removal from the United States. 

Can My Spouse Come to the United States to Live While the Visa Petition Is Pending?

If you are a U.S. citizen, once you file Form I-130, your spouse is eligible to apply for a nonimmigrant K-3 visa. This will entitle him or her to come to the United States to live and work while the visa petition is pending. otherwise, the spouse may wait abroad for immigrant visa processing. However, seeking a K-3 visa can be an additional method for him or her to come to the United States.  



Find out about the Preference System.

Find out how the Visa Bulletin and Priority Date Affects this type of case.

Find out about the 3/10 year bar for those that were illegal in the U.S. and leaves for visa processing.

Find out about "Adjustment of Status."

 Find out about how Section 245(i) adjustment helps if the applicant is illegal.

Find out about the National Visa Center.

Articles related to this topic

  • It has arrived: Same Sex Marriage with Immigration Benefits - Gay & Lesbians Rejoice
  • FAQ- Immigration Benefits for Same-Sex Marriage for LGT Couples (2013)
  • A Summary of the Major Provisions of the New I-601A Provisional Waivers
  • Immigration waiver I-601 are not available for all cases
  • The Priority Date & The Visa Bulletin

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    Moses Apsan and his staff, based in New York City and Newark, NJ provide exceptional legal services throughout the world, in all aspects of immigration to the United States, including non-immigrant (temporary visas), immigrant visa (Green Card) and deportation defense. In addition Mr. Apsan, has been practicing Bankruptcy law and Divorce laws for over 30 years, He was the President of the Federal Bar Association, New Jersey Chapter (1997-2002). He speaks Portuguese and Spanish..
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