If you are a U.S. citizen, you can sponsor your spouse (husband or wife) for a U.S. green card! A U.S. green card is a document issued by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that signifies a person’s immigration status as a permanent resident. U.S. permanent residents may live and work in the U.S. permanently and eventually have the option to apply for U.S. citizenship! If you are married to a foreign-born citizen, it is important to get your spouse a green card so they have legal, permanent status in the U.S.
Depending if your spouse lives in the U.S. or in a foreign country, the green card application process will differ. If your spouse lives in the U.S, you should apply for a family-based green card. If your spouse lives in a foreign country, you should apply for an immediate relative visa.
How to Apply for a Family-Based Green Card
The first step to any green card application is filing an immigrant petition. In your case, you should file Form I-131, Immigrant Petition for Relative. This is a USCIS form. You, the U.S. citizen, will file it on behalf of your foreign spouse. The purpose of Form I-130 is to prove that your spouse is eligible for a family-based green card and that you will provide him or her financial support.
If your spouse lives in the U.S., you can file Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status or Register Permanent Residence at the same time – this is called concurrent filing. Form I-485 is also a USCIS form. Your foreign spouse will complete Form I-485 on their own. The purpose of Form I-485 is for your spouse to request a change of immigrant status, from temporary to permanent.
The second step is attending the green card interview. The green card interview will take place at a USCIS office and both you and your spouse are required to attend. Here, you will both be interviewed by a USCIS officer. The purpose of the interview is to prove that your relationship is legitimate. You will be asked a lot of very personal questions about your relationship.
After the interview a final decision will be made on the application. If the application is approved, your spouse will be sent a green card in the mail.
How to Apply for an Immediate Relative Visa
The first step is to file an immigrant petition. You, the U.S. citizen spouse, will file this form on behalf of your foreign spouse. This is a USCIS form. You will also need to provide an Affidavit of Support which states that you are financially capable of caring for your spouse.
The second step is having your foreign spouse file a visa application. In this case, he or she will file Form DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa Application. This form is to be filed with the U.S. Department of State.
The third step is for your foreign spouse to attend a visa interview. He or she will need to schedule this interview after filing the visa application. At the interview, your spouse will be asked questions about your relationship and why she wants to live in the U.S.
If the interview goes well, your spouse will be granted an IR-1 visa and a visa packet and may travel to a U.S. Port of Entry. Your spouse should not open this packet! It is to be opened at the Port of Entry.
At a U.S. Port of Entry, your spouse will hand over the visa packet to an immigration officer. He or she will then request to enter the U.S. At this point, the immigration officer will admit your spouse into the country and he or she will officially be a U.S. permanent resident! The officer will place an immigrant stamp in your spouse’s passport and then he or she will receive a green card in the mail.