Residence Permit as spouse / partner of a USA citizen
The First Step Toward an Immigrant Visa: Filing the Petition
The first step is to file a Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130, with the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for your spouse (husband or wife) to immigrate to the United States.
In certain circumstances, a U.S. citizen living abroad can file an immigrant visa petition outside of the United States.
2. U.S. Sponsor Minimum Age Requirement
There is no minimum age for a U.S. sponsor (petitioner) to file a petition for a spouse. However, you must be at least 18 years of age and have a residence (domicile) in the U.S. before you can sign the Affidavit of Support.
3. Is Residence in the U.S. Required for the U.S. Sponsor?
Yes. As a U.S. sponsor/petitioner, you must maintain your principal residence (also called domicile) in the United States, which is where you plan to live for the foreseeable future. Living in the United States is required for a U.S. sponsor to file the Affidavit of Support, with few exceptions. To learn more, review the Affidavit of Support (I-864 or I-864EZ) Instructions.
4. Next Steps – Fees, Affidavit of Support, and Visa Application
After USCIS approves the petition, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC). Once received, the NVC will assign a case number for the petition and instruct the applicant to complete Form DS-261, Choice of Address and Agent. (NOTE: If you already have an attorney, the NVC will not instruct you to complete Form DS-261.) The NVC will begin pre-processing the applicant’s case by providing the applicant and petitioner with instructions to submit the appropriate fees. After the appropriate fees are paid, the NVC will request that the applicant submit the necessary immigrant visa documents, including the Affidavit of Support, application forms, civil documents, and more. Learn more about National Visa Center visa case processing.
Fees are charged for the following services:
- Filing an immigrant Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130 (this fee is charged by USCIS).
- Processing an immigrant visa application, Form DS-260 (see Note below)
- Medical examination and required vaccinations (costs vary)
Other costs may include: translations; photocopying charges; fees for obtaining the documents you need for the immigrant visa application (such as passport, police certificates, birth certificates, etc.); and expenses for travel to the U.S. embassy or consulate for your visa interview. Costs vary from country to country and case to case.
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The following documents are required:
Passport(s) valid for six months beyond the intended date of entry into the United States, unless longer validity is specifically requested by the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your country. Please review the instructions for guidance.
Affidavit of Support (I-864, I-864A, I-864 EZ, or I-864W, as appropriate) from the petitioner/U.S. sponsor.
Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application.
Two (2) 2×2 photographs.
Civil Documents for the applicant, and in particular:
Marriage certificate (and Marriage Termination Documentation, if exist)
Photocopy of a valid Passport Biographic Data Page
The consular officer may ask for more information during your visa interview. You should bring your original civil documents (or certified copies) such as birth and marriage certificates, as well as legible photocopies all original civil documents, and any required translations to your immigrant visa interview.
Completed Medical Examination Forms – These are provided by the panel physician after you have completed your medical examination and vaccinations.
Once the NVC determines the file is complete with all the required documents, they schedule the applicant’s interview appointment. NVC then sends the file, containing the applicant’s petition and the documents listed above, to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the applicant will be interviewed for a visa. The applicant, petitioner, attorney, and third-party agent, if applicable, will receive appointment emails, or letters (if no email address if available), containing the date and time of the applicant’s visa interview along with instructions, including guidance for obtaining a medical examination.
Applicants should bring their valid passports, as well as any other documentation above not already provided to NVC, to their visa interviews. During the interview process, ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken. Generally, applicants will receive their original civil documents and original translations back at the time of interview.