The first thing you’ll do after having married a foreign national outside the US is to file Forms I-130 and I-130A with USCIS. When you send this in, you’ll need to include evidence to show that your marriage is a real marriage and pay the appropriate fees.
Once USCIS processes your application and approves it, it will be sent by them to NVC or the National Visa Center. After NVC gets it, you’ll need to pay an immigrant visa fee. That must happen before the NVC will start working on your case.
Once you pay the fees, NVC will send you a DS-260 form. It might seem like it’s asking for the same information as the I-130 contained. It is, but you’ll need to fill it out again because the Form I-130 was reviewed by USCIS and the DS-260 is for a different agency, the Department of State.
You will have to send in an affidavit of support form I-864 and supporting evidence. Once NVC thinks they have enough information, they will send your case to the U.S. embassy in the country that you chose in the I-130. If you chose the wrong embassy, your case will be delayed and you may have additional fees to get it sent to the correct embassy.
You will then get an interview notice from this embassy. It could take several months for this to be issued.
Right before this interview, your spouse should get a medical exam from a designated physician. The doctor will give you a sealed envelope with the exam results, don’t open the envelope, take it to the embassy sealed.
When your spouse goes for the interview, they should take copies of the documents that were submitted with the I-130 application. You might also need some originals (make sure to keep an original in your own file) of certain things like the original marriage certificate.
Then you wait. Eventually, you will get a decision stating that your application was approved. Have your spouse pick up their passport and the visa will be in it. They must enter the US before the visa expires.
Don’t forget to have them pay their ELIS (electronic information system) fee online after they get their visa but before arriving in the US. If they do that, they should get their green card after they arrive in the US.
All in all, this process usually takes about 18 months.
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If you have any questions or concerns regarding your immigration journey, contact our office to schedule a consultation with our immigration attorney.