How Long Does it Take to Bring a Spouse to the USA, 2024

Bringing a spouse to the United States

Immigration Attorney Atlanta Jameel Manji author 1Author: Jameel Manji, Founder, Manji Law, P.C.

Mr. Manji founded Manji Law in 2016 to follow his passion for helping people navigate the complicated immigration system. Mr. Manji graduated from Georgia State University College of Law and received a Master of Taxation from Georgia State’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business. Published on: August 28, 2018, Last Updated on: February 09, 2023.

American green card holders and citizens who marry foreign spouses are always concerned about the timelines involved before their spouses can join them permanently in the United States. The spouse may be in the US  but may need to exit the country to comply with regulations, or the spouse may be outside the US. at the time of beginning the application process. The application involves marital separation, so the question becomes relevant.

Will USCIS Speed up in 2024?

Within the historical perspective of the past three years and the effects of Covid-19 on society in general and on immigration processing times, there is a significant backlog. USCIS is struggling to catch up.

Government agencies are aware of the backlog and have implemented several strategies to improve the situation. However, bureaucracies take time to adapt, and it will probably be 2024 before significant improvements filter through. The 2022, 2023 and 2024 processing times vary based on the application required.

Do You Have Questions about Bringing a Spouse to the USA?

Processing Times Depend on the Type of Application

When considering how long it takes to bring a spouse to the US in 2024, one needs to consider different processing times for various applications. Application times are determined by a few factors, which include:

  1. Your place of residence
  2. Your foreign-born spouse’s place of current residence, immigration status, and history

In addition, no matter how diligent you are in preparing your application, processing times can be negatively affected by bureaucracy or even things such as file mismanagement which can happen in an administrative environment. Therefore, let’s examine a few scenarios and assess timelines within each scenario.

 

Process for a US Citizen Married to an Immigrant

The process for a US citizen married to an immigrant varies depending on where the two reside. When a citizen is married to an immigrant and they both live outside the US, they should take the following steps:

  1. This process requires the American citizen spouse to file Form I -130. If this gets approved, then the immigrant may submit their visa application online.
  2. Once this is done, the immigrant may send all their documents to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will check all of the papers and the filing, and once it is satisfied, the file and all documents are sent to the US consulate in the immigrant’s home country for consular processing.
  3. The consulate will advise when the immigrant can attend an interview. If the interview goes well, the immigrant officer will approve an immigrant visa. Once the immigrant arrives in the US, they will be given a permanent resident card.

The approximate processing time for Form I-130 approval can take between ten and sixteen months. Therefore, the entire process will take between sixteen and twenty-seven months.

Unfortunately, the K3 visa option, which was aimed at fast-tracking a process so that the spouses could get reunited sooner, is no longer an option. Although theoretically, it can be pursued, the practical methodology adopted by USCIS has nullified the process, so it’s probably not worth pursuing.

 

Process for a US Lawful Permanent Resident Married to an Immigrant

When both the US lawful permanent resident and immigrant spouse are living outside of the US, there are several complex factors that need to be considered in deciding whether the immigrant spouse can apply from within the US.

In addition, applied bars may be in place if the immigrant leaves the US It is a good idea to brief a skilled immigration lawyer before making any decisions that might affect your citizenship status.

When a permanent resident applies for an immigrant spouse, the following steps must be followed:

  1. If the immigrant spouse is living outside the US, the US green card holder must submit Form I-103 to USCIS on behalf of their spouse.
  2. The immigrant spouse may submit a Form I-130 visa application form online. Once this is done, they can submit the relevant documentation to the state’s National Visa Center (NVC). At this point, the immigrant needs to wait for the priority date in the immigrant visa category to become current. Generally speaking, a limited number of these visa types are made available annually.
  3. Only once the priority date has arrived and a visa has become available can the NVC advise the foreign spouse to attend an interview with a consular officer at the consulate in the immigrant’s country. Assuming the interview goes well, the immigrant spouse will probably be granted an immigrant visa.

As with the other scenarios above, the processing time for the approval of Form I-130 is approximately 10.5 to 30 months. The time on the waiting list is much more difficult to predict for obvious reasons. Once the interview is held, five to ten months will pass before the immigrant visa is in hand.

Waiting time is difficult to predict accurately, partly due to visa availability. Lastly, the processing time for the green card application depends on where the application may be conducted from. Your attorney can give you a better idea once you have chosen a course of action.

 

Process for an Immigrant Spouse Requiring an Adjustment of Status

When a US citizen lives in the United States with their immigrant spouse who has lawfully entered the US, they require an Adjustment of Status. They should follow this process:

  1. File Form I-103 and Form I-485 to request to adjust the status of the immigrant spouse. After filing, the immigrant’s status is legalized even if they overstayed on their visa. The immigrant’s stay in the US becomes legal as soon as that application is filed, even if they overstayed their visa.
  2. The immigrant may attend USCIS to have their fingerprints taken.
  3. The immigrant is required to attend an interview with an immigration officer. If the interview is successful, the green card will be approved, establishing lawful permanent residence.

The online immigrant visa application processing time for this process is approximately 13.2 months.

How Can An Immigration Attorney Help?

Some immigration processes are relatively simple. Others are much more complex. It is recommended that for complex matters, you use the immigration services of a skilled and experienced immigration attorney to minimize delays and increase your chances of success.

Manji Law P.C. has a team of passionate immigration practitioners offering a full range of citizenship and immigration services. They are empathic and determined to fight for your chance to chase the American dream. Attorneys can assist if you are looking to apply for permanent residence, need immigrant visas such as employment-based immigrant visas, or are seeking a marriage-based green card. Call today for to book a consultation.

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