Family-based green card—Spouse
Spouses typically receive their permanent resident cards (Green Cards) faster than other family-based Green Card applicants if the petitioning spouse is a U.S. citizen. Green Cards are documents that permit immigrants to live permanently in the United States. If you are a Green Card holder, rather than a citizen, then your spouse can get a Green Card by being listed on your Green Card notice or by applying for immigration using an immigration petition. The immigration petition is called Form I-130, Sponsor Family for a Green Card.
What do I do if my spouse already lives in the U.S.?
Spouses who are already cleared by the USCIS to temporarily reside in the U.S., can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status at the same time as the Form I-130 petition is filed. Filing immigration petitions and applications together is called "concurrent filing." Since visa numbers are always available for the spouses of U.S. citizens, they are automatically allowed to file for a Green Card as soon as the petition is received by the USCIS.
What do I do if my husband or wife lives outside the U.S.?
If your spouse lives outside the U.S. when the NVC assigns your visa number, then the NVC will send your immigration petition and your spouse's visa number to the nearest local U.S. embassy or consulate to your spouse. Your spouse can then get further information about completing their consular process at that embassy or consulate.
I'm a permanent resident. How do I file for my spouse?
If your spouse is not named on your Green Card approval notice, then you must file Form I-130. After USCIS approves the petition, there may be a wait for a visa number because the U.S. limits the number of visas given to Green Card holder spouses each year.
If the spouse needing a Green Card is inside the U.S. with temporary permission from the USCIS at the time that they receive a visa number, they will then file the Form I-485 Green Card application. If the spouse needing a Green Card is outside of the U.S. at the time that they receive a visa number, the NVC will send your petition and your spouse's visa number to your spouse's local U.S. consulate or embassy, which will advise your spouse to come in to complete the visa application process.
How long does it take for a spouse to immigrate?
If you already live in the United States and you're helping your spouse immigrate from outside of the United States, you will need to wait until the Form I-130 petition is granted first before they immigrate. Form I-130 can take six months or more to be processed by the United States.