Bringing Spouses to Live in the United States as Permanent Residents
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.
Green Card holder (Permanent resident)
Inside the United States (through lawful admission or parole)
File Form, Petition for Alien Relative. After a visa number becomes available, apply to adjust status to permanent residency. 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, Petition for Alien Relative. When this 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.
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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, Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence.
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. Use our Filing Calculator to determine your 90-day filing date. For more information, see the Remove Conditions on Permanent Residence Based on Marriage 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, 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.
If you are a permanent resident and you have filed for your spouse and/or minor children on or before Dec. 21, 2000, your spouse and/or children may be eligible for the V visa classification if more than three years have passed since you filed.
This section is for beneficiaries who became permanent residents through a preference classification.
If you were married and/or 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 for your spouse and/or children. In addition, your spouse and/or 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 spouse and/or children can apply for an immigrant visa.
Your spouse and/or 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 falls into this category and you adjusted to permanent residency in the United States, you may submit the following:
Visas for Fiancé(e)s of U.S. Citizens
If you are a U.S. citizen who wants to bring your foreign fiancé(e) to the United States in order to get married, you will need to file a Form, Petition For Alien Fiancé(e). This is the first step to obtaining a K-1 nonimmigrant visa for your fiancé(e). The K-1 nonimmigrant visa is also known as a fiancé(e) visa.
In order to obtain a K-1 fiancé(e) visa, you and your fiancé(e) must intend to marry each other within 90 days of your fiancé(e) entering the U.S as a K-1 nonimmigrant.
Your marriage must be valid, meaning both you and your fiancé(e) have a bona fide intent to establish a life together and the marriage is not for the sole purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit.
If your fiancé(e) marries you within 90 days of being admitted to the United States as a K-1 nonimmigrant, he or she may apply for lawful permanent resident status in the United States (a Green Card).
If you have already married, plan to marry outside the United States, or your fiancé(e) is already residing legally in the United States, your spouse or fiancé(e) is not eligible for a fiancé(e) visa. Go to the Bringing Spouses to Live in the United States as Permanent Residents page for more information about how to help your foreign spouse apply for a Green Card.
Eligibility for Fiancé(e) Visas
You may be eligible to bring your fiancé(e) to the United States on a fiancé(e) visa if you meet the following requirements:
You are a U.S. citizen;
You and your fiancé(e) intend to marry one another within 90 days of your fiancé(e)’s admission to the United States on a K-1 nonimmigrant visa;
You and your fiancé(e) are both legally free to marry (this means you both are legally able to marry in the United States and any previous marriages have been legally terminated by divorce, death, or annulment); and
You and your fiancé(e) met each other in person at least once within the 2-year period before you file your petition. You may request a waiver of this in-person meeting requirement if you can show that meeting in person would:
Violate strict and long-established customs of your fiancé(e)’s foreign culture or social practice; or
Result in extreme hardship to you, the U.S. citizen petitioner.
Process for Bringing your Fiancé(e) to the United States
The process for bringing your fiancé(e) to the United States involves USCIS, the U.S. Department of State (DOS), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). At each stage in the process, background and security checks may be conducted on both you and your fiancé(e). This may include checks in various databases for national security, criminal history, and other information about you and your fiancé(e). These checks are conducted using fingerprints, names, or other biographic or biometric information.
Step 1: Petition for Fiancé(e) – USCIS
You file Form, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) according to the form instructions. This form asks USCIS to recognize the relationship between you and your fiancé(e).
We review your Form I-129F and the documents you submitted. We may mail you a request for evidence if we need additional documentation or information.
If you establish your eligibility, we approve your Form and recognize the claimed fiancé(e) relationship. Otherwise, we deny your Form and notify you of the reasons for denial.
We send the approved Form I-129F to the DOS National Visa Center (NVC).
Step 2: Visa Application – DOS
The NVC forwards the approved Form to the U.S. Embassy or consulate where your fiancé(e) will apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa. This is generally the U.S. Embassy or consulate where your fiancé(e) lives.
The U.S. Embassy or consulate notifies you when the visa interview for your fiancé(e) is scheduled.
Your fiancé(e) applies for the K-1 nonimmigrant visa and brings the required forms and documents to the visa interview.
The DOS consular officer determines whether your fiancé(e) qualifies for the K-1 nonimmigrant visa.
If the consular officer grants the K-1 nonimmigrant visa, it is valid for up to 6 months for a single entry.
If the consular officer does not find the relationship to be bona fide, DOS will not issue a K-1 nonimmigrant visa and instead will return the Form to USCIS. Generally, if DOS returns a Form to us after it has expired, we will allow it to remain expired. However, you may choose to file a new Form.
Step 3: Inspection at a Port of Entry – CBP
If DOS issues a K-1 nonimmigrant visa, your fiancé(e) travels to the United States and seeks admission at a port of entry while the K-1 nonimmigrant visa is valid. As with any visa, a K-1 nonimmigrant visa does not guarantee admission to the United States. A CBP officer at the port of entry will make the ultimate decision about whether to admit your fiancé(e).
Step 4: Marriage
If your fiancé(e) is admitted as a K-1 nonimmigrant, you and your fiancé(e) have 90 days to marry each other.
Step 5: Adjustment of Status – USCIS
If you marry within 90 days, your fiancé(e)—now your spouse—may apply for a Green Card by filing Form,Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
We review your form and the documents your spouse submitted. We may mail a request for evidence to your spouse if we need additional documentation or information.
You and your spouse will usually be required to appear for an interview.
If you were married for less than two years at the time the Form is approved, USCIS will grant your spouse conditional permanent resident status and issue a Green Card valid for 2 years. Your spouse will need to remove the conditions on his or her residence by filing Form, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence in the 90 days before his or her Green Card expires.
Each case is different and the length of the process varies. USCIS processes fiancé(e) petitions in the order we receive them.
Children of Fiancé(e)s
If your fiancé(e) has a child who is under 21 and unmarried, the child may be eligible to come to the United States on a K-2 nonimmigrant visa. You must include the names of your fiancé(e)’s children on the Form if you wish to bring them to the United States. The children must continue to be unmarried and under 21 in order to be admitted to the United States as K-2 nonimmigrants. They may travel with your fiancé(e) or later, but they cannot travel to the U.S. before your fiancé(e).
If you and your fiancé(e) married within 90 days of your fiancé(e)’s admission into the U.S., your fiancé(e)’s children who were admitted as K-2 nonimmigrants may also apply for a Green Card by filing a Form with USCIS. However, K-2 nonimmigrant children must remain unmarried in order to be eligible for a Green Card. K-2 nonimmigrant children should apply for a Green Card at the same time or after your fiancé(e).
Permission to Work
After being admitted to the U.S. on a K-1 nonimmigrant visa, your fiancé(e) may immediately apply for evidence of work authorization by filing Form, Application for Employment Authorization. In this case, your fiancé(e)’s work authorization is valid for only 90 days after his or her entry into the U.S.
Your fiancé(e) may also apply for work authorization at the same time he or she applies for a Green Card. In this case, your fiancé(e) can file the forms. In this case, your fiancé(e)’s work authorization is valid for one year and may be extended in one-year increments.
Failure to Marry Within 90 Days
K-1 and K-2 nonimmigrant status automatically expires after 90 days and cannot be extended. Generally, your fiancé(e) and his or her children must leave the United States at the end of the 90 days if you do not marry. If they do not depart, they will be in violation of U.S. immigration law. This may result in removal (deportation) and could affect their future eligibility for U.S. immigration benefits.
However, if you marry your fiancé(e) after the 90 day period, you may file a Form, Petition for Alien Relative. Go to the Bringing Spouses to Live in the United States as Permanent Residents page for more information about how to help your foreign spouse get a Green Card. Generally, your fiancé(e) may not apply for a Green Card on any other basis besides marriage to you.
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