My Spouse Isn’t a Citizen: Getting Them To the U.S.

If your spouse isn't a citizen, we are walking you through everything you need to know to get them to the U.S.
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Staff Writer, @DooleyNotedLaw

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It is not uncommon for U.S. citizens to marry people outside the states. If your spouse is not a citizen, you may wonder how to bring them to the United States. 

While employment visas provide a temporary option for your foreign spouse to enter the states, the most common way to bring your spouse to the United States is through a family-based green card petition.

Below, this article will explain a Family-Based petition and the steps to take if your spouse is not a citizen and you’re looking to bring them to the United States.

Family-Based Petition

If you are a U.S. citizen and want to bring your spouse or children to live with you in the United States, you must file a family-based green card petition. The steps required can complicate this process; therefore, it’s essential to understand the requirements involved. 

Form I-130a

Form I-130 is a petition for an immigrant visa establishing that a United States citizen or green card holder has a valid family relationship with someone applying for such status. This document, often known as the “Petition for Alien spouse,” is used to establish the relationship.

The first step in the family-based green card process is to submit an I-130 petition to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is a part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Read our article here to determine your eligibility.

In the context of a marriage visa, the I-130 petition shows your marriage is legally valid. The petitioner would also provide a marriage certificate and other documents to demonstrate that your marriage is not fraudulent. For example, documentation like joint bank account statements, joint insurance documents, and photos help establish a “real” marriage. 

Spouse is Not a Citizen: What’s Next?

File I-864 Affidavit of Support

Next, you need to file an I-864 Affidavit of Support. This form shows that you have the money to support your spouse. Further, the I-864 must include evidence of your income, such as tax returns, pay stubs, or bank statements.

File Form with National Visa Center 

Then, if the I-130 is approved, you must file the form specified in your notice with the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC is a government agency that manages visa applications.

After submitting the required forms, the NVC will review your case and contact your spouse to schedule an interview.


Your spouse will need to make an appointment at a USCIS office. They will be fingerprinted and have their photo taken at this appointment. This is for their security. After the NVC has received all required documentation, they will contact your spouse. They will schedule an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country.

Interview Process

A consular officer conducts the interview. They will ask your spouse questions about their application and background. Additionally, they will need to provide any required documentation they haven’t already submitted.

After the interview, the consular officer will approve or deny the case.

Approval or Denial

Lastly, the consular officer will inform your spouse if the United States has approved or denied the green card. If the U.S. approves them, they will receive their immigrant visa and be able to travel to the United States. This visa allows spouses to enter the United States permanently.

However, if the United States denies the petition, the consular officer will notify them and tell them why. Ultimately, this means that your spouse did not meet the requirements to apply for a green card. They may be able to re-apply if they can fix the problem that made them ineligible.

Spouse Isn’t a Citizen: Other Options to Explore

The immigration system is complex. Depending on the situation and eligibility of an individual, there may be other ways to bring your spouse to the United States if your spouse is not a citizen. For example, if your marriage is not recognized in the United States, applying for a fiance visa is an option. Additionally, your spouse may be able to enter temporarily through an employment visa.

Ultimately, it would be best if you spoke with an immigration lawyer to discuss the options.

Why Hire an Immigration Lawyer in Texas

Applying for a green card can be a complex process. A lawyer who specializes in immigration will be familiar with the rules and regulations and can help you navigate the process.

If USCIS denies your family-based green card petition, you may be able to appeal the decision or re-file your petition. An experienced immigration lawyer can help you navigate the appeals process and determine whether re-filing is an option for you.

Don’t go through it alone if you need help with a family-based green card petition. Set up a free consultation with Dooley Noted, an experienced immigration lawyer in Texas. We can assist you with all of your immigration needs.

The contents of this post, and the posting and viewing of the information on this post, should not be construed as, and should not be relied upon for, legal advice in any particular circumstance or fact situation. An attorney should be contacted for advice on specific legal issues.

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