How Long Does It Take to Bring Spouse to USA?

How long does it take to bring a spouse to the USA? Find out here from Michael G. Murray, P.A.

How Long Does It Take To Bring Spouse To the USA?


According to data from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) statistical summary, in the fiscal year of 2019, about 50,381 fiancée petitions were approved. U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPR) living in the United States are able to secure a visa or obtain a green card for their foreign-born spouses and bring them to the United States by petitioning for a marriage-based visa. However, one of the several questions often asked is – how long will the process take?

The marriage visa, also known as CR-1 or IR-1 visa, is an immigrant visa that offers the foreign spouse of a U.S citizen the opportunity to immigrate to the United States and obtain a green card based on their partner’s request. The amount of time it will take to complete the process depends on different factors, including whether you’re applying as a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, and other surrounding circumstances. If you’re unsure of how to proceed, it is important that you consult with an experienced Austin immigration lawyer for detailed guidance.

At the Law Office of Michael G. Murray, P.A., we’re committed to offering experienced legal counsel and comprehensive representation to clients in immigration law and marriage visa-related matters. Attorney Michael G. Murray and his legal staff are available to discuss your personal situation, help you understand all of your available immigration options, and decide the best course of action. Our attorneys will guide you through every stage of the legal process, help fast-track the entire process, and ultimately achieve a favorable resolution.

Green Card for Spouse


Marriage-based visas allow foreign nationals to migrate to the United States and obtain a green card based on the request of their partner who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

Family-based immigration is among the most popular ways of obtaining green cards. However, the process is not the same for citizens and those who have permanent resident status. In addition to spouses, United States citizens can sponsor immediate relatives as well as other family members to obtain an immigrant visa and come to the United States.

If an individual is a holder of some other type of visa or a work permit, there are several ways she or he can bring a spouse to the United States. However, only a United States citizen or a green card holder can get green cards for their spouses.

Necessary Steps When Applying for a Green Card for Your Spouse

If the spouse is currently living abroad, outside the U.S., she or he would have to apply via consular processing, and the application will be forwarded to the U.S. consulate in the spouse’s home country. If the petition is approved, you should submit the spouse’s visa application to the National Visa Center (NVC) if you are a citizen.

If you are a green card holder, your spouse will be put on a waiting list for an immigrant visa. In that case, their immigrant visa application can’t be submitted until their priority date is current. When that occurs, submitting your spouse’s visa petition to the National Visa Center becomes possible. The request will be processed and sent to the nearest embassy or consulate of your spouse’s residence, and an interview will be scheduled.

On the other hand, if the spouse is currently living in the U.S. and has a temporary visa or a work permit, then she or he will have to file a Form I-485, known as a petition for adjustment of status.

The immigration and application process involved in obtaining a green card for your spouse involves multiple forms and several stages. It also requires persistence and patience, and you must follow instructions down to the letter in order for your application to be successful.

For this reason, it is advisable that you work with an experienced Austin immigration attorney for proper guidance and to help streamline the whole process.

U.S. Citizen Applying for Spouse Green Card


If you are a U.S. citizen applying for a green card for your foreign spouse, here are the steps involved:

  • Complete Your Forms: Obtain and complete Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, and Form I-130A, Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary.
  • Submit Your Forms: Submit the forms to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Remember to attach the supporting documentation and filing fee.
  • Submit A Visa Application: Once your forms have been approved, submit a visa application for your spouse to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will process and send your file to the consulate or embassy in the country where your spouse currently lives.
  • Attend the Interview: An interview with your spouse will be scheduled by the consulate or embassy. During the interview, your spouse will answer questions asked and provide documentation for review.

If the interview is successful, your spouse can travel to the United States within the next six months. They will be allowed to enter after presenting their visa and documents at the entry point. Your spouse will get their green card some weeks after their arrival.

Spouses of U.S. citizens who have been married for less than two years will only be granted a conditional green card. You must apply for a permanent green card before the conditional card expires.

US Green Card for Foreign Spouse

Furthermore, lawful permanent residents applying for a green card for their foreign spouse will also follow the steps outlined above. The major difference is that upon submitting your forms and once they’re approved, your spouse will have to enter a waiting list for an immigrant visa, based on their priority date, as we have mentioned. This will depend on the home county of your spouses.

Form I-130 Instructions


The first and most important step to bring your foreign spouse to the United States is to complete USCIS Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. To ensure a smooth application and avoid any delays, you must do the following:

  • Follow all the instructions for filling out the form to the latter
  • Provide detailed, truthful information
  • Include all required supporting documentation

The I-130 form and the instructions for completing it can be found on the USCIS website. The information you have to provide includes personal information about yourself such as a physical description, addresses where you have lived, your employment information, as well as stating how the beneficiary is related to you, and if there were any previous immigration petitions filed for him or her.

An experienced immigration attorney can guide you through the process of filling your forms and help gather all necessary supporting documentation.


I-130 Supporting Documents For Spouse

To complete Form I-130, the following information may be required about you and your spouse:

  • Address information for the previous 5 years
  • Employment information for the previous 5 years
  • Dates of any previous marriages ended
  • Information on any petition you have previously filed for this spouse or any other foreign national
  • Any previous immigration proceedings for a beneficiary spouse

When submitting I-130 and I-130A, you also have to provide supporting documents as evidence. You should make copies of your documents unless it’s requested that you provide an original. In addition, if a document is not in English, you should include an English translation from the person competent to provide it.

You also have to provide proof that you are a United States citizen or a green card holder by providing copies of your documents such as a passport or a birth certificate, or a copy of your green card. You will also need a copy of your marriage certificate. If either of you were already married, that person should provide evidence that the previous marriage ended.

Evidence of name changes should also be among supporting documents, along with evidence that you have a bona fide marriage. That means proving that you are either living together, have a child or children, combined finances, or any other proof that would show your relationship truly exists.

Form I-130A


Form I-130A, Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary, provides complete information about the beneficiary spouse. You will need to provide the following details:

  • Information about yourself (spouse beneficiary).
  • Information about your employment, both inside and outside the United States.
  • Petitioner’s statement, contact information, declaration, and signature, if anyone assisted you to complete the form.
  • Information about the interpreter, if you used one
  • Information about the person completing the form
  • Additional information to support your application.

Spouse Visa Processing Time


Spouse visa processing time depends on whether you’re a U.S. citizen or green card holder (lawful permanent resident).

  • A U.S. citizen petitioner can apply for a visa once Form I-130 is approved by USCIS. The processing time for the visa is often between 3 and 5 months. Since there are no limits on visa numbers when immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are in question, these applications have priority. In some cases, petitions can be processed in just two months.
  • Lawful permanent residents will need to wait for a visa to become available for their spouse, based on the priority date and depending on the spouse’s home county. Bear in mind that there is often a backlog at the USCIS, so your spouse may have to wait around 24 months. You can apply for the visa once the priority date is current. The processing time for the visa is often between 3 and 5 months.

Green Card for Spouse Processing Time


Once your visa has been approved, the file will be sent to the consulate or embassy in the country where your spouse currently lives. The processing time usually takes 2 to 3 months. Thereafter, your spouse will be contacted and an interview date will be scheduled.


Total Processing Time for Spouse Green Card

Provided all things being equal and there were no complexities during the application, the total processing time for a spouse green card, on average, is:

  • About 12 to 18 months for U.S. citizen spouse green card.
  • Around 24 to 36 months for a green card holder or lawful permanent resident spouse green card.

However, these green card processing time ranges fluctuate depending on global situations (such as the COVID-19 pandemic), on what processing center is working on your application, and on other factors.

Work with an Experienced Immigration Attorney


Petitioning for a marriage-based visa involves several complicated procedures. At the Law Office of Michael G. Murray, P.A., our attorneys have the experience and resources to assist and guide clients through the various phases involved in their marriage-based application.

Attorney Michael G. Murray can help file your application forms, submit the necessary documentation, complete all required legal paperwork, and help prepare your partner for the final immigration interview. Contact our law firm today to schedule a one-on-one consultation. We’re proud to serve clients throughout Austin, Texas and Miami, Florida, as well as their surrounding communities.