Marriage connects not just two individuals but often bridges the gap between different countries. In the United States, marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident opens the door for the foreign spouse to apply for a marriage-based green card. This process allows the foreign spouse to live and work in the U.S. permanently, creating a foundation for families to start their new lives together.
The process of the Petition for Alien Relative primarily serves couples in transnational marriages where one partner is a U.S. citizen, but can also extend to certain immediate family members of naturalized citizens as well. It caters to those looking to build their lives together in the United States, ensuring that the legal bond of marriage is recognized for immigration purposes. The process can sometimes be lengthy, which may frustrate many newlyweds, but it’s important to follow the process carefully to ensure reunification.
The Initial Step: Form I-130
Submitting Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative is the first critical step in the marriage-based green card process. This form, filed by the U.S. citizen spouse (the petitioner), establishes a valid marital relationship between the petitioner and the foreign spouse (the beneficiary). The purpose here is clear: to initiate the legal process of reuniting spouses under U.S. immigration laws.
The form requires detailed personal information about both the petitioner and the beneficiary. This includes full names, addresses, dates of birth, places of birth, marital history, and details of any previous immigration filings. Crucially, the petitioner must provide substantial evidence to prove the marriage is bona fide. Such evidence includes a marriage certificate, joint financial documents, photographs together, and possibly affidavits from third parties. The petitioner also must submit proof of their U.S. citizenship, such as a U.S. passport, birth certificate, or naturalization certificate.
Processing and Approval
Once the completed I-130 form and accompanying documents are submitted to USCIS, the agency issues a receipt notice and begins processing. This stage can take several months, varying by case and USCIS service center. If more information is needed, a Request for Evidence (RFE) may be issued. Upon approval, USCIS sends an approval notice, and the process moves to the next phase involving the National Visa Center (NVC).
After I-130 approval, the foreign spouse will undergo either consular processing (if outside the U.S.) or adjust their status (if already in the U.S.) to obtain the spousal visa or green card. This step is foundational, setting the stage for the subsequent legal procedures.
Importance of Accuracy and Legal Guidance
Accuracy and honesty in the application are paramount. Misrepresentation can lead to serious legal consequences and affect the visa outcome. Given the intricate nature of immigration laws, many couples opt for professional guidance. An immigration attorney can assist in preparing the petition, ensuring all documentation is correct, and advising on the overall process.
For those navigating this process, seeking professional advice can be invaluable. At Pollak PLLC, we’re highly experienced in understanding the intricacies of U.S. immigration law and are ready to assist. To learn more and to schedule a consultation, contact us today by calling (214) 305-2266. Let us help you take the first step towards reuniting with your spouse and building your future in the United States.