How Long Does It Take To Bring My Spouse to the USA?
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is notorious for long processing times. The question likely dreaded by most immigration professionals is regarding processing times due to the uncertainty caused by administrative back logs. The COVID-19 pandemic which caused upheaval across many businesses forcing shutdowns and staff reduction certainly did not aid to USCIS’s backlog.
If you’re married to someone living outside the United States, you’re most likely concerned with ‘How long does it take to bring my spouse to the USA?’ As much as we would love to give you a straightforward answer, the time it takes to bring a spouse to the United States depends on a variety of factors such as the petitioner’s lawful status, USCIS processing times at the time you file, and appointment wait times at the participating U.S. embassy or consulate.
In this blog post, we are covering the most common scenarios to demonstrate how long it may take for each of these potential partners to bring a spouse to the USA. Keep in mind that USCIS publishes expected processing times based on a 6-month processing average, therefore processing times are always subject to change.
On March 29, 2022, USCIS announced an effort to increase efficiency to its cycle times to reduce its case backlog and improve processing times. USCIS intends to increase its capacity by improving technology and expanding staffing to achieve better processing times by the end of fiscal year 2023.
You can check USCIS processing times here: https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/
As experienced immigration lawyers, our legal team at the Milovic Law Firm can help bring your spouse to the USA in the most efficient way possible.
Scenario #1: The immigrant spouse is living overseas and is married to a U.S. citizen living in the USA.
If you are an American citizen who is married to an immigrant living outside the USA, you will have to petition USCIS to classify your spouse as eligible for permanent residency (aka “green card”), by filing form I-130. The approval process for form I-130 currently is anywhere from 11 to 22 months. Once USCIS approves the classification sought, your case will be transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC) for consular processing. You will process the immigrant visa application and Affidavit of Support, along with required supporting evidence during the NVC stage. Depending on the processing times at the U.S. embassy or consulate in your spouse’s foreign country, the final approval process may take an additional 6 -12 months.
Although it is possible for your immigrant spouse to obtain a temporary visa (K-3) to come to the U.S. and await the permanent residency approval, long processing times have made the K-3 visa obsolete.
Scenario #2: An immigrant is living overseas and is married to a U.S. citizen who is also living overseas.
If this scenario describes your current situation, then you will most likely undergo the same process as the couple in scenario #1. However, there is one noteworthy exception.
Before filing your form I-130 with USCIS, we recommend visiting the travel.state.gov
website to inquire about local filings. You may be eligible for local filing at the U.S. consulate or embassy due to disruptive events or other humanitarian concerns in your spouse’s foreign country. While it is a rare occurrence, in appropriate circumstances, some embassies or consulates can conduct the entire immigrant visa application process through their office (meaning the approval process would be a lot quicker). It’s definitely worth the ask!
Scenario #3: An immigrant is living overseas and is married to a lawful permanent U.S. resident living in the USA.
Unlimited green card (permanent resident) visas are only available to immediate relatives (spouse, minor children, parents) of U.S. citizens. This means your beneficiary does not have to wait for a green card visa to become available based on a limited quota of visas issued to this particular category. Luckily, since 2013, USCIS has maintained a “current” status for the U.S. permanent resident category petitioning spouses and minor children. This means there is no green card visa backlog, but you will still be subject to administrative processing times described in scenario # 1.
Best Immigration Attorneys in Phoenix, AZ
So, how long does it take to bring your foreign spouse to the USA? As you can see, it all depends on administrative processing times, while your individual circumstances may also contribute to the process. To reduce additional or unnecessary processing times, it is essential to file a complete and thorough petition from the start. The best thing you can do to ensure your spouse enters the United States as quickly as possible is to enlist the help of a skilled immigration attorney has extensive experience with marriage-based green cards.
Not only are we familiar with the immigration process based on years of experience, but we are dedicated attorneys who will aggressively pursue the best options on your behalf. Here at the Milovic Law Firm, we are proud to handle a comprehensive spectrum of immigration services.
Contact our team today for a free consultation with one of our legal experts.