How Long Does It Take to Bring a Spouse to the USA? A Comprehensive Guide

How long does it take to bring a spouse to the United States? Find out more here at Tadeo and Silva, your trusted immigration law firm.

Author: Massiel Silva Tadeo, Founder, Tadeo & Silva

Attorney Massiel Silva Tadeo is a partner and owner at The Tadeo & Silva Law Firm. She specializes in removal (deportation) defense, family immigration, and hardship waivers. Published on: September 13, 2021, Last updated on: July 27, 2023.

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How Can I Bring My Spouse to The USA?

If you are married to someone who isn’t a citizen or legal permanent resident, your spouse will need to obtain a visa or a green card to join you in the United States. Bringing your foreign spouse and other family members to the U.S. can be a complicated process, so you may wonder how long it will take.

Fortunately, if you are already a United States citizen holding a permanent resident card, the immigration process will likely be more concise than it would be for a permanent resident. Permanent residents’ applications tend to take longer, and their spouses and relatives are not promised visas or green cards.


How Long Will My Spouse’s Immigration Process Take?

Your spouse’s application could be approved within weeks or months, but it could also take several years. No matter when their application is approved, once your spouse receives approval, they will have to apply for a visa from the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. This step usually takes about six months.

Once your spouse has received their visa, they must travel to the U.S., where they will undergo an interview with a consular officer. If all goes well, your spouse will then receive their green card. Depending on how fast your application was processed, this could happen within days or months.

In some cases, however, the process could take much longer. For example, if your spouse does not qualify for any work permit, they will need to wait until they become eligible before being allowed into the country.

It is important to note that the length of time it takes to bring your spouse to the U.S depends on many factors.

Factors Influencing the Time It Takes to Get I-130 Approved

Depending on the petitioner/beneficiary connection and the time it would take to get authorization on Form I-130, an immigrant petition for Alien Relative might differ substantially.

It is pretty tough to predict l-130 processing timeframes. However, understanding the differences between immediate relatives and family preference groups and the fundamentals of family-based immigration in the United States is incredibly useful.


Family Preference Group

This group entails family members who aren’t your immediate relatives, which include married children or adult children who are 21 years or old. There are four categories under the family preference group designated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS.

      • First Preference (F1) – It includes unmarried sons and daughters of age 21 years or older of United States citizen
      • Second Preference (F2A) – Spouses and unmarried children of age under 21 years of lawful permanent residents
      • Second Preference (F2B) – Unmarried sons and daughters of age 21 years or old of lawful permanent resident
      • Third Preference (F3) – It includes married sons and daughters of United States citizens
      • Fourth Preference (F4) – Brothers and sisters of United States citizens who is 21 years or older

      Getting a visa through the family preference group takes a longer time compared to the immediate relative’s category.


      Immediate Relatives

      United States citizens’ immediate relatives (children, parents, and spouses) are eligible for immigrant visas. Approval for this takes an average of 5 to 9 months. However, this is average, and actual wait times can vary greatly.

      As there is no visa restriction for an immediate relative category, there is a minimal wait. The following visa categories are for immediate relatives:

      • IR-1: A U.S. citizen’s spouse
      • IR-2: A U.S. citizen’s unmarried kid under the age of 21
      • IR-3: A U.S. citizen adopts an orphan from another country
      • IR-4: Orphan to be adopted within the United States by a citizen of the United States
      • IR-5: Parent of a citizen of the United States who is at least 21 years old

      How Fast Can You Get a Green Card Through Marriage?

      The U.S. government reserves certain green cards for family members and direct relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. One of these unique green cards is the marriage green card. The time it takes to obtain a marriage green card varies depending on the circumstances.

      The green card procedure is influenced by various factors such as where you file, when you file, and whether the individual sponsoring their immigrant spouse for a marriage green card is a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder).


      Average Processing Time for Green Card Through Marriage

      Here are the average processing times for those who wish to obtain a green card:

      Spouses of U.S. Citizens

      The average timeline to acquire a green card is 10-22 months from start to finish.

      As of August 2022, the estimated waiting times for a spouse visa are from around 11 months to around two years if a spouse is a United States citizen and regardless of whether you currently live outside of the U.S. or in the States. However, spouses of U.S. citizens who live in the U.S. can simultaneously file both the I-130 and the I-485 forms. The I-485 form is necessary to adjust the status and obtain a permanent green card.


      Spouses of Green Card Holders

      Average timeline from start to finish: 20-38 months.

      Spouses of green card holders must wait for a green card to be available; their sponsor submits form I-130 before they may apply for an immigrant visa petition in the U.S. at a U.S. consulate overseas.

      An immigrant visa takes approximately two years to become accessible in most situations, and the entire procedure takes roughly three years. Citizens of Mexico, India, China, and the Philippines may have to wait a little bit longer.

      So, if a spouse is a green card holder and presently resides in the United States, an individual could wait from around 20 months to three years or even longer to bring their spouse to the United States. Contact a green card lawyer to get legal help.

      How Long Does It Take for I-130 to Get Approved for Spouse 2022?

      At the moment, processing times for a Petition for Alien Relative (I-130) is 11.5 months if a U.S. citizen files for their spouse. That is only an estimate by the Texas Service Center, which processes and adjudicates certain immigration petitions and applications. The Texas Service Center has jurisdiction over several states, including Georgia.

      If where a green card holder files a Petition for Alien Relative (I-130) at Texas Service Center, the processing time for bringing a spouse to the U.S. is 20 months. Bear in mind that these processing times are only estimates given by the USCIS based on the time needed to complete around 80% of cases.

      At our law firm, Tadeo & Silva, we believe that a solid attorney-client relationship is the key to success! Contact us today at (404) 649-0716 for a consultation and learn more about our immigration services.

      Best Ways to Bring Your Spouse to the U.S.

      The U.S. immigration laws include the K-3 visa. This one is for foreign spouses of U.S. citizens and allows them to cross the border while the I-130 petition submitted by the U.S. citizen is pending.

      The K-4 visa is for minor children of spouses and lets them visit the United States with their parents, who are U.S. citizens.

      Although the K-3 and K-4 visas are non-immigrant visas, they allow their holders to become lawful permanent residents of the United States and acquire green cards. However, these visa application processes tend to be slower than those for bringing a spouse to the U.S.


      Is Getting a Fiancé Visa Faster than a Spouse Visa?

      Getting a spouse visa is faster than getting an immigrant visa for your fiancé. According to the USCIS estimated processing times for all USCIS offices, the estimated waiting time for getting a fiance immigrant visa petition approved is only two months longer.

      It takes around a year for the USCIS to get a fiancé visa petition (Form I-129F) approved. But, then, you have to wait several weeks to receive notice from the National Visa Center with further instructions and get the K-1 visa in the end.


      Steps to Apply for Green Card After Marriage (National Visa Center Application)

      Step 1: Establish the Marital Relationship (Form I-130)

      The reason for this form, together with corroborating papers, is to demonstrate the existence of a legal marriage between the foreign citizen spouse and the U.S. citizen.

      The green card “sponsor” is the one who files the I-130. This is the spouse who is a U.S. citizen or a current green cardholder. The “beneficiary” or “green card applicant” is the spouse applying for a green card.


      Step 2: Apply for an Immigrant Visa at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

      Once the I-130 is approved, the beneficiary will need to apply for an immigrant visa. To do so, they will need to prove that they meet certain requirements. These requirements include having sufficient income, being able to support themselves financially, and proving that they have no criminal record.

      Requirements for Filing for Green Card Through Marriage

      You can apply for U.S. lawful permanent residence, commonly known as a marriage-based immigrant visa or green card if you are married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. You and your spouse must prove the following to be eligible under U.S. immigration law:

      • You are lawfully married (civil marriage certificate)
      • Your marriage is genuine (not simply to become a green card holder)
      • The petitioning spouse has U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status, and you are both unmarried (to anybody else)


      What to Expect When Sponsoring a Spouse for a Green Card

      You should consider a few scenarios when sponsoring a spouse for a green card.

      1. The immigrant is engaged to be married and lives in another country; the U.S. fiance is a U.S. citizen residing in the United States.
      2. The immigrant is married and lives in another country; their spouse is a U.S. citizen who lives in the USA.
      3. The immigrant is married and lives in another country; their spouse is a U.S. citizen who lives in another country alongside the immigrant.
      4. The immigrant is married and lives in the States; the U.S. spouse is a lawful permanent resident of the U.S.
      5. The immigrant is married and lives in the United States, and the spouse is a lawful permanent resident of the United States.
      6. After obtaining legal admission, the immigrant is married to a U.S. citizen who lives in the United States.
      7. After an unlawful entrance, residing in the United States, and getting married, the U.S. spouse is a U.S. citizen living in the United States.


      Financial Responsibility


      Once you bring your spouse or any family member to the United States, you will have their financial responsibility and will be considered the financial sponsor. For this, you need to bring your finances in order before you proceed with the immigration visa application filing process.

      When applying for an immigration visa for an immediate relative, you will be required to submit Form I-864, Affidavit of Sponsorship, which states that you will be the financial sponsor and will provide for their needs without the government’s assistance.


      How Much Do I Need to Bring My Spouse to the United States?


      A minimum yearly income of $21,775 is necessary to sponsor a spouse or family member to become a green cardholder. This implies that the sponsor (a U.S. citizen or current green card holder) is not serving in the military, only financing one relative.

      The income needs to grow with the size of the family. Residents of Alaska and Hawaii will also pay more than residents of the 58 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.


      Cost to Get a Green Card Through Marriage

      The federal filing costs for a marriage-based green card application are $1,760 for a spouse who lives in the United States and $1,200 for a spouse outside of the United States (medical examination is not included).

      Here is a rough breakdown

      1. Filing an I-130 Petition: The filing fee for Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, is $535.
      2. Filing an I-485 Application: When you are adjusting your status (applying for a green card without leaving the U.S.), the fee for Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, is $1,140.
      3. Biometric Services Fee: There is also an $85 fee for biometrics (fingerprinting).
      4. Medical Exam: The cost for this can vary between $200 and $300.
      5. Optional Lawyer Fees: If you choose to hire an attorney to assist with the process, the costs can range widely based on their rates.


      Seek Legal Advice from an Immigration Attorney

      At Tadeo & Silva Law Firm, the attorneys are here to help.

      Our law firm is committed to providing outstanding outcomes and will help you through each stage of your immigrant visa application—whether you speak English or Spanish. Don’t hesitate to contact us at (404) 649-0716 or browse our official website for additional information.

      We look forward to assisting you!

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