Family Petitions for Spouses (Marriage)

If the petitioner is a U.S. citizen, then his or her spouse is considered an immediate relative and is immediately eligible for an immigrant visa if the petition is approved.

If the petitioner is a lawful permanent resident and the petition for his or her spouse is approved, the spouse will be notified by the Department of State when a visa number becomes available.  If there is no visa number immediately available from the Department of State, the foreign national spouse must wait for a number to become current.  The foreign national spouse may need to depart the United States to avoid accruing unlawful presence.

There is a 3-step process for your spouse to become a legal immigrant:

  1. The USCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition that you file for the relative spouse.
  2. The State Department visa bulletin must show that a spouse immigrant visa is available to the relative spouse, based on the date the immigrant visa application was filed.
  3. If your spouse is outside the United States when the visa petition is approved and when an immigrant visa number (if required) becomes available, the relative spouse will be notified to go to the local U.S. consulate to complete the processing for an immigrant visa.  If the relative spouse is legally inside the U.S. when the visa petition is approved and when an immigrant visa number (if required) becomes available, he or she may apply to adjust his or her status to that of a lawful permanent resident.

To find out more about whether a spouse can live and work in the U.S. please see the section on K Visas

Conditional Residence for Marriage-Based Petitions

If the marriage is less than 2 years old at the time when the spouse is granted lawful permanent resident status, the foreign national spouse will become a conditional permanent resident rather than a lawful permanent resident.  Therefore, both petitioner and spouse must file a petition to remove the conditions with the USCIS 90 days before the 2-year anniversary of receiving conditional legal permanent resident status. If the petitioner and spouse fail to file during this time, the spouse will be considered out of status as of the 2-year anniversary, and may be subject to removal from the U.S.  Those who are married longer than 2 years at the time of adjustment are not subject to the conditional residency requirements.

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