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Waiting Period for a US Spousal Visa to Process

As a permanent resident, you can petition your spouse to immigrate to the United States. While your spouse can be eligible for a green card through you, the process will often take time before your immediate family member can actually obtain a U.S. permanent resident visa. A green card holder is the name commonly used interchangeably for Lawful Permanent Residents.

Except for Immigrant visas issued to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) sets a limit on the issuance of immigrant visas to individuals falling under preference category and prescribes a limit on the percentage of visas alloted to countries each fiscal year.

Because  the numbers of immigrant visas issued to preference category are limited and the demand for this type of visas is usually higher than what is apportioned to a certain country particularly in Mexico, China, India, and the Philippines, you really have to toughen up if this gets you on the waiting list.

Except in Dominican Republic and in the above-mentioned countries where there are numerous applicants, the spouse of a permanent resident can expect an average waiting period of four (4) years.

When an Applicant is in the United States 

There are two major steps that an applicant in the US for a permanent resident visa should do.

  1. If your spouse is in the United States, you can start the process by filing a Petition for Alien Relative.  Your spouse must wait until the priority date in the immigrant visa category becomes current. The priority date is the date when you filed, with an appropriate corresponding fee, the petition with sufficient content.
  2. Once the priority date becomes current the applicant spouse shall file an Application to Register Permanent Residence  for the adjustment of his or her status.

When an Applicant is Outside the United States 

It is through consular processing that your spouse can become a permanent resident after your Petition for Alien Relative is approved. This is the process through which an immigrant outside the U.S. is issued a visa based on an approved Petition for Alien Relative.  Consular processing is also available to eligible relatives living abroad when the option to adjust status inside the U.S. is not possible.

If the terms and concepts of family sponsorship sound unfamiliar to you, we are happy to help. We can specifically address your concern if you contact us using the form on the right.

sponsorship application Spousal Sponsorship us immigration

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

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