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Bringing Spouses to Live in the United States as Permanent Residents

Eligibility

In order to bring your spouse (husband or wife) to live in the United States as a green card holder (permanent resident), you must be either a U.S. citizen or green card holder.

How to Bring your Spouse to the United States

You are a:

Your spouse is:

How to Apply

U.S. citizen

Inside the United States (through lawful admission or parole)

File Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, and Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status, at the same time.  See form instructions for more information.

Outside the United States

File Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

When the Form I-130 is approved, it will be sent for consular processing and the consulate or embassy will provide notification and processing information. See form instructions for more information.

Green card holder (Permanent resident)

Inside the United States (through lawful admission or parole)

File Form I-130. After a visa number becomes available, apply to adjust status to permanent residency using Form I-485. NOTE: Unless the beneficiary (your spouse) had an immigrant visa petition or labor certification pending prior to April 30, 2001, the beneficiary must have continuously maintained lawful status in the United States in order to adjust status. See form instructions for more information.

Outside the United States

File Form I-130. When Form I-130 is approved and a visa is available, it will be sent for consular processing and the consulate or embassy will provide notification and processing information. See form instructions for more information.

 

If you or a member of your family is in the U.S. military special conditions may apply to your situation. For information and additional resources, see the “Military” section of our website.

Required Documentation

To complete the process, the petitioner must submit:

  • Form I-130 (signed with proper fee), with all required documentation, including:
    • Two completed and signed G-325A forms (one for you and one for your spouse)
    • A copy of your civil marriage certificate
    • A copy of all divorce decrees, death certificates, or annulment decrees that demonstrate that all previous marriages entered into by you and/or your spouse were terminated
    • Passport style photos of you and your spouse (see Form I-130 instructions for photo requirements)
    • Evidence of all legal name changes for you and/or your spouse (may include marriage certificates, divorce decrees, court judgment of name change, adoption decrees, etc.)
  • If you are a U.S. citizen, you must demonstrate your status with:
    • A copy of your valid U.S. passport OR
    • A copy of your U.S. birth certificate OR
    • A copy of Consular Report of Birth Abroad OR
    • A copy of your naturalization certificate OR
    • A copy of your certificate of citizenship
  • If you are a green card holder (permanent resident), you must demonstrate your status with:
    • A copy (front and back) of Form I-551 (green card) OR
    • A copy of your foreign passport bearing a stamp showing temporary evidence of permanent residence

Conditional Residence and Removing Conditions

If you have been married less than 2 years when your spouse is granted permanent resident status, your spouse will receive permanent resident status on a conditional basis. To remove the conditions on residence, you and your spouse must apply together using Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence. (Note that Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, is not used for this purpose.)

You must apply to remove conditional status within the 90-day period before the expiration date on the conditional resident card. If you fail to file during this time, your spouse’s resident status will be terminated and he or she may be subject to removal from the United States. For more information, see the “Remove Conditions on Permanent Residence Based on Marriage” page.

Case Status

To check the status of your visa petition, see the “My Case Status” page.

Can My Spouse Come to the United States to Live While the Visa Petition Is Pending?

If you are a U.S. citizen, once you file Form I-130, your spouse is eligible to apply for a nonimmigrant K-3 visa. This will entitle him or her to come to the United States to live and work while the visa petition is pending. To petition for this benefit, file Form I-129F. Note that you are not required to file Form I-129F. Your spouse may wait abroad for immigrant visa processing. However, seeking a K-3 visa can be an additional method for him or her to come to the United States. For more information, see the “K-3/K-4 Nonimmigrant Visas” page.

If you are a permanent resident and you have filed Form I-130 for your spouse and/or minor children on or before December 21, 2000, your spouse and/or children may be eligible for the V visa classification if more than three years have passed since the I-130 was filed. For more information on V visas, see the “V Nonimmigrant Visas” page.

For more information on “Adjustment of Status” within the United States and “Consular Processing” overseas, see the corresponding link to the right.

My Petition was Denied: Can I Appeal?

If the visa petition you filed is denied, the denial letter will tell you how to appeal and when you must file the appeal. After your appeal form and the required fee are processed, the appeal will be referred to the Board of Immigration Appeals. For more information, see the “How Do I Customer Guides”.

Following-to-Join Benefits

This section is for beneficiaries who became permanent residents through a preference classification.

If you had children who did not obtain permanent residence at the same time you did, they may be eligible for follow-to-join benefits. This means that you do not have to submit a separate Form I-130 for your children. In addition, your children will not have to wait any extra time for a visa number to become available. In this case, you may simply notify a U.S. consulate that you are a permanent resident so that your children can apply for an immigrant visa.

Your children may be eligible for following-to-join benefits if: 

  • The relationship existed at the time you became a permanent resident and still exists, AND 
  • You received an immigrant visa or adjusted status in a preference category. 

If your family member (child) falls into this category and you adjusted to permanent residency in the United States, you may submit the following:

If you are in the United States and have not yet filed to adjust your status to permanent resident, you can file Form I-824 for your child overseas with your Form I-485.  When concurrently filing Form I-824, it does not require any supporting documentation.

If you received the immigrant visa overseas, you may contact the National Visa Center (NVC) for follow-to-join information. Direct such inquiry by sending an e-mail to NVCInquiry@state.gov or by writing to the National Visa Center, ATTN:  WC, 32 Rochester Ave., Portsmouth, NH 03801-2909. 

Last Reviewed/Updated: 06/08/2012