USCIS in accordance with the Department of State determines the visa availability for immigrants who enter the USA lawfully. The number of immigrant visa availability depends on each year in family preference visa categories. The United States limits the number of visas available in certain categories by country. Sometimes it depends on the date the petition was filed and the number of other Aliens waiting for the same type of category. The date the petition was filed is called “priority date”.
Immediate relatives are non-citizens who are related to the USC as a: Spouse, Unmarried child under the age of 21 years old, or a Parent of a U.S. Citizen Petitioner. A Stepchild of a USC Petitioner can qualify as long as the parents were married before the child turned 18 years old. If the Family Member is not an Immediate Relative of a USC then they will need to review the Visa Bulletin to determine how long they will have to wait in order to apply for adjustment of status
If you are a USC or an LPR and you would like to petition for your spouse, you must submit additional evidence that your marriage is Bona fide or Good Faith marriage. In other words that you did not enter the marriage under false pretenses solely for immigration purposes and that you entered the marriage in Good Faith. You must also undergo a Bona fide marriage interview at the offices of USCIS where they will ask questions about your personal life. The USCIS officers may even come to your home to see if you are really a couple. It is recommended to have an attorney prepare you and accompany you to this interview, but it is not required.
Sometimes the marriage can become abusive once the USC realizes that the immigrant is at a disadvantage in the relationship. If the relationship turns verbally, physically, or psychologically abusive the immigrant is not obligated to remain in the marriage. There are other options such as the Violence Against Women Act or VAWA where a person can self-petition if they can prove they have been the victim of abuse by the USC. Please see our VAWA page for more information.
The waiting period to be able gain legal Status through a Family Member depends on your category on the Visa Bulletin. After your waiting period through the Visa Bulletin is up the next step is Consular Processing.If the Family Member is outside of the United States, the Adjustment of Status Interview will not take place at the USCIS offices but at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in their country of origin. The interview will be conducted by a U.S. Consulate officer.
- Once the USCIS approves the Family Petition, then they transfer the case to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) for pre-processing. The non-citizen’s case will be created into the National Visa Center or NVC system and a welcome letter will be mailed to the alien’s address.
- The Consular Process takes between 5 to 13 months an average depending on the Consulate you are applying through as they are the ones scheduling your interview.
- An Interview is required followed by a medical examination process. Once the Consular Process application is approved, the non-citizen enters the USA with approved immigration documents in hand. They will enter as a Legal Permanent Resident.