One of the most common methods of immigration to the United States is by marriage to a citizen or permanent resident. One of the directives of the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) is to support the integrity and cohesiveness of American families who have foreign-born relatives; to this effect, immigrants who are permanent residents by virtue of their green cards can serve as sponsors for their husbands or wives foe the purpose of becoming legally documented in the U.S.
Who Can Apply
The process for immigrants who are married to permanent residents of the U.S. takes longer than for spouses of U.S. citizens. The latter does not have a waiting list while the former does; however, spouses of permanent residents fall under the “family second preference” category, which means that their waiting place is not so far down the list. The USCIS and Homeland Security have quotas in place for the number of relatives that can gain immigrant status through this process, and thus it may take months or years before applications are approved.
Spouses Who Are in the U.S.
When the husband or wife of a permanent resident is already in the U.S., the process consists of two steps:
1 – The petitioner and sponsor complete a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, and wait for its approval and priority date. This approval will not take long; nonetheless, the next step places relatives on the waiting list.
2- Once Form I-130 has been approved, the next step is to file a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, along with forms G-325A Biographic Information, I-864 Affidavit of Support, and I-693 Medical Examination Results.
Spouses Who Are Outside the U.S.
The process for husbands and wives who are not in the U.S. at the time they file their petition is similar to the above; however, they must wait for a visa number and an interview with consulate staff. In many countries, the petitioners will be notified to report to the U.S. Embassy or the consulate office to pick up their visa documents, which are in a sealed envelope that should only be opened by USCIS officers upon arrival.
Getting a green card in the mail is the final step for both processes above. This will happen a lot faster when the married couple is already in the U.S.