What is the U.S. Marriage Visa processing time?

Individuals seeking settlement status in the U.S. need a Green Card or permanent resident card. As a general rule, this can be obtained through an immigrant visa. However, if one of your relatives already lives in the U.S. as a citizen or permanent resident, he or she can petition for your Green card.

Over the last decades, Spousal Sponsorship and Family visas have been some of the most chosen immigration paths for aliens wishing to enter the U.S.

It is worth mentioning that the Family-based Green Cards category is subject to a yearly cap. In other words, there is a limited number of permits available every year. This includes Spouse Visas and other tiers of partner permits.

Although only bona fide weddings qualify for a Spouse visa, the number of applications for marriages of convenience is alarming. This situation has led the U.S. Immigration Bureau to carefully check every petition received. Subsequently, Family Visas processing times are likely to be delayed.

Recently, the Trump administration has been trying to improve the USCIS’ productivity. Nevertheless, the processing times for several Green Card categories is still very long.

For example, it may take more than ten months for a petition for an immediate family member to be processed. Furthermore, there are cases where applicants have been waiting for their Marriage Green Cards for more than two years.

Understandably, the immigration process for alien spouses who wish to enter the U.S. may be intimidating. For this reason, it is always recommendable to seek legal guidance.

IAS’s immigration experts have put together this comprehensive guide of how to speed up your U.S. Spouse Visa application process. If you have further doubts and inquiries about your Spousal Sponsorship, one of our immigration attorneys will be happy to help.

marriage based visa

What are the U.S. Marriage Visa categories?

If you are a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident (LPR), you can bring your dependent spouse to the U.S.

To be eligible, you and your partner must have been married for at least two years. Otherwise, you may obtain a two-year conditional permit. After this time, you will be able to apply to adjust your status.

Dependent spouses of U.S. citizens who wish to settle in the U.S. can seek a Marriage Green Card. Alternatively, you may meet the K3 Visa requirements. This is a temporary nonimmigrant permit for which you can apply from outside the U.S.

Although the Marriage-based Green Card process may take longer, this permit will grant you settlement status in the U.S. However, if you get a K3 Spouse Visa, you will still be allowed to adjust your status at a later time.

It is important to note that eligible spouses can petition to bring their dependent children with them to the U.S. as well.

What is the Spousal Visa Application Process?

Step one: Submit your I-130 Petition

The first thing to do as soon as you decide to bring your spouse to the U.S. is to file an I-130 petition. The USCIS will process your request within a few months.

However, having your Petition for Alien relative approved is not the end of the journey. Once your request is accepted, you can proceed further with your application, depending on your current status in the U.S.

Step two: apply for your Marriage-based visa

If you are already residing in the country on a different visa, you can directly apply for a change of status. Differently, you need to submit your application to enter the U.S. from abroad. This is where you should expect some delays.

Applications for Marriage-Based Visas submitted from outside the U.S. are processed by the NVC. The National Visa Center is one of the institutional bodies of the U.S. Department of State. Its role is to hold visa petitions that have already been approved by the USCIS until the numbers for their categories become available. The NVC is also in charge of collecting all the necessary paperwork from the applicant.

On average, cases that do not require further evidence to be processed can remain with the NVC for at least four to six months at best. When the wait ends, and there are new permits available for the Spouse Visa category, the case moves from the NVC to one of the U.S. Consulates abroad.

At this point, you will be summoned to your local U.S. consulate for an interview. This is the final step you need to take before you can get your visa.

How long does it take for a U.S. citizen or LPR to sponsor a spouse?

Before you can submit your application for a Marriage Visa, you must wait for your I-130 Petition to be approved.  This should take about five months, but it depends for the most part on the number of requests that the USCIS received before yours.

However, this is only the first part of your application’s journey and, so far, the quickest. Once your petition is approved, you will be ready to file your visa application.

If you just need to seek an internal adjustment of status, the average waiting time should be no longer than five months. In other words, if you already live in the U.S. and wish to get a Spousal Visa, the whole visa timeline is going to last about a year.

Applicants who receive a Family Green Card can live and work freely in the U.S. Differently, if you applied for a K3 Spouse Visa, you cannot work without having a Social Security Number. If you wish to seek employment in the U.S., you can submit an additional application for a work permit. This process will take a few more months.

Although it is not always possible to estimate the entire U.S. Marriage Visa processing time, the average wait usually takes longer than one year. Delays tend to be longer for applications submitted from abroad.

How can I make my Spouse Visa application easier?

Every year, thousands of aliens rely on the Spousal sponsorship to obtain a U.S. Visa. However, the long waiting times for this category of Family-based Visas may be discouraging for many applicants.

If you wish to live together in the U.S. with your partner, seeking legal guidance is always the best strategy to succeed. With the help of an immigration expert, you can file a successful petition, that will be approved as soon as it is processed. In other words, it is essential to understand what the correct procedures to get your Spousal Sponsorship are.

The followings are a few of the main points that you should address before submitting your Spouse Visa application. In this way, you can avoid some of the most common mistakes that may jeopardize your petition.

If you wish to discuss further your immigration strategy, IAS’ experts are here to help.

Prove the authenticity of your marriage

Each year, the USCIS receives a vast number of Spousal Visa applications. However, not all of them come from happily couple who wish to settle in the U.S. because they are in love.

One of the fundamental Marriage Visa requirements is to be in a genuine couple. If you and your spouse only got married to get an unrestricted entry in the U.S., your application will be rejected. Besides, lying about your marital status is considered a fraud. In other words, if you entered into a marriage for immigration purposes, you might face the potential for imprisonment. In addition, this will affect any future attempts to travel to the U.S legally.

When you submit your Spousal Sponsorship petition, it is crucial to prove that your relationship is genuine. On the other hand, providing a bona fide marriage certificate from an accredited source may not be enough to support your case.

You need to do your best to demonstrate how much you and your spouse are in love. Otherwise, the NVC may ask for more evidence of your eligibility, and this will delay your petition.

There are several different documents that you can use to show that you are in a happy relationship. For example, you can choose some of the following:

  • Records of holidays taken together;
  • Evidence that you have been keeping in touch while living in two separate countries;
  • Photographs of you as a couple;
  • Written statements from people who have been knowing you for a long time;
  • Evidence of joint financial commitments;
  • Birth certificates of children and stepchildren.

Do not forget that after two years your Marriage-based visa will expiry. If you wish to obtain a renewal, you must show that you are still in a bona fide marriage.

Consider your spouse’s criminal records

You should prove a complete record check of both you and your spouse. A further security clearance will be performed by U.S. officials as part of the Family-based visa approval criteria.

Remember that your application is likely to be delayed or rejected if you fail to mention any criminal record that you or your spouse hold.

Contemplate different alternatives

Spousal Sponsorship is not the only way to enter the U.S., and your lawyer can help you explore further immigration options.

For instance, you may qualify through one of the Employment Green Cards, or as a foreign investor, if you have enough funds to invest in a U.S. business.

If you wish to discuss your case with a professional immigration expert, one of IAS’ immigration attorney will be happy to help. Together, you will find the best options for you to enter the U.S. and to obtain your Green Card.

marriage green card

What can I do while I wait for my Marriage Green Card?

The average Spouse Visa processing time takes about 12 months. However, due to the increasing number of applications received every year by the USCIS, you will most likely need to wait more than one year.

After the amendments put in place in 2001, you are now able to spend your waiting time in the U.S. under a non-immigrant visa. For example, if you wish to enter the country as a foreign spouse, you can apply for a non-immigrant K3 Visa.

It is worth noting that to obtain a K-3 Visa while you wait for your Marriage Green Card, you must follow a separate application process.

If you are already in the U.S. at the time of your Marriage Visa petition, you can remain until your current visa expires or your Green Card is granted.

Do you need help with your Spousal Sponsorship application?

The U.S. Spouse Visa process can be complicated since it involves several steps. In addition, there are different requirements to be met to be eligible. In other words, you must submit a comprehensive portfolio of supporting document to highlight the merits of your case. Any mistake can jeopardize your application, and delay a process that it is already not particularly immediate.

If you wish to live in the U.S. with your beloved spouse, you should ask for legal guidance. IAS’ immigration attorneys have already helped several couples to get their Spouse Visa and move to the U.S successfully.

As a part of our bespoke immigration advice service, your dedicated IAS lawyer will assist you with the following:

  • Comprehensive legal advice related to your case and personal circumstances;
  • Ensuring that your application meets the requirements set by the U.S. immigration law;
  • Assistance with compiling the evidence required for your Marriage Visa category;
  • Completion and submission of all your forms and petitions;
  • Regular checks of the status of your application;
  • Ongoing liaison with the USCIS and the NVC.

If you wish to discuss your case and learn about your options to enter the U.S., please contact us on +1844 290 632 or use our online inquiry form.

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