You will need to use consular processing to apply for a fiancé or spousal visa petition if the beneficiary isn’t in the country. The case will begin once you submit your filing with USCIS. The processing will be finalized at the US embassy. The beneficiary must attend their interview with the embassy to receive their visa. By meeting with their immigration officer, the beneficiary will receive the final adjudication, determining whether they will receive the fiancé or spousal visa.
When Petitioning: Green Card Holder vs. US Citizen
The first question that must be answered when it comes to obtaining a visa is whether the person petitioning is a permanent resident or a US citizen. Be sure to contact a marriage green card lawyer before beginning this process.
To apply for the K1 fiancé visa, petitioners must be legal residents. If a petitioner is not a citizen, they must be a permanent resident that is married before filing on behalf of a beneficiary abroad.
Once USCIS approves the petition, the beneficiary that is abroad won’t need to wait for their visa. A petitioner with a green card will receive their priority date which they will have to wait for before the case moves forward. This period is typically between one to two years, though the timing will vary in each situation.
The spousal visa is the right option for you if the beneficiary and petitioner in your case are married with the beneficiary living abroad. To receive a spousal visa, petitioners undergo a three-step process:
1. The petitioner must first file the I-130 with USCIS.
2. Upon approval, the file will go to the US National Visa Center, where the documents and forms will be collected. The final step involves the beneficiary attending an interview to obtain the spousal visa.
3. After the beneficiary comes to the US, they will receive their permanent resident card in the mail.
Filing with USCIS
Regardless of whether the person petitioning is a green card holder or a citizen, the spousal green card process must begin with the filing of the I-130A, I-130, and any supporting documents. The I-130 form will be signed by the person petitioning, which will initiate the petition for a green card for their relative.
The I-130A form requires the petitioner to provide detailed information about their spouse. Two G325A forms should also be filed, as well as the following documents:
- Copies of the divorce decrees
- Copies of the marriage certificate
- Two passport style photos of the beneficiary and petitioner
- One copy of the naturalization certificate for the petitioner (if born outside of the US)
- One copy of the birth certificate of the petitioner (if born in the US)
Once all the documents and forms are filed, you will obtain the Notice of Action I-797C receipt that indicates that your documents were received and are processing. In this Notice of Action form, you will need to pay attention to the receipt number. This identifier will be used to track and identify your case. You can use it to follow the status of your case online.
Additionally, be sure to pay attention to the priority date. This information will allow you to determine how to proceed with your case. With a US citizen petitioner, the visa will be immediately available. With a permanent residence petitioner, the priority date will determine when the case will move forward.
The process of receiving a spousal green card is quite complex. Keep this guide in mind as you contact a green card lawyer to help you go through this process.