About our services: Spouse
Bringing Your Spouse to the U.S.
Am I Eligible?If you are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, you may apply to bring a husband or wife to live and work permanently in the United States. As the sponsor of your spouse, you must show that your household income is sufficient to support your family at 125% or more above the U.S. poverty level for your household size. For more details about meeting this income requirement, see Filing an Affidavit of Support for a Relative.
If your U.S. citizen parent, or your U.S. citizen brother or sister, is applying (on Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative) to bring you to the United States to live and you would like to bring your spouse to live in the United States with you, your spouse and children do not require a separate visa petition.
If you were married to your spouse before you became a permanent resident, your spouse may be eligible to receive following-to-join benefits. This means that you would not have to submit a separate USCIS Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) for your spouse, and your spouse would not have to wait any extra time for an immigrant visa number to become available.
The ProcessAn immigrant (also called a "lawful permanent resident") is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of living and working permanently in the United States. Your spouse must go through a multi-step process to become an immigrant. First, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must approve an immigrant petition (application) that you file for your spouse. Second, the State Department must give your spouse an immigrant visa number, even if your spouse is already in the United States. Third, if your spouse is already in the United States, your spouse may apply to adjust to permanent resident status. If your spouse is outside the United States, your spouse will be notified to go to the local U.S. consulate to complete the processing for an immigrant visa.
- If you have been married less than two years when your spouse is approved for permanent residence, your spouse will receive conditional permanent resident status.
Obtaining an Immigrant Visa NumberIf you are a U.S. citizen bringing your spouse, and your immigrant visa petition is approved, an immigrant visa number will be immediately available to your spouse. If you are a lawful permanent resident bringing your spouse, and your petition is approved, your spouse must wait for an immigrant visa number to become available according to the preference system. Because the number of immigrant visa numbers that are available each year is limited, they may not get an immigrant visa number immediately after the immigrant visa petition is approved. For more information, see The Preference System.
Work PermitsYour spouse does not need to apply for a work permit once they are admitted as an immigrant with their immigrant visa or have already been approved for adjustment to permanent resident status. As a legal permanent resident, your spouse should receive a Permanent Resident Card (commonly referred to as a "Green Card") that will prove that your spouse has a right to live and work in the United States permanently. If your spouse is now outside the United States, your spouse will receive a passport stamp upon arrival in the United States. This stamp will prove that your spouse is allowed to work until a Permanent Resident Card is created.
If your spouse is in the U.S. and has applied to adjust to permanent resident status (by filing USCIS Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status), they are eligible to apply for a work permit while their case is pending. Your spouse should use Form I-765 to apply for a work permit (see Obtaining a Work Permit for more information).