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How To Apply for a Spouse Visa

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on December 15, 2021

If individuals want to apply for a spouse visa, there are specific steps they must take to qualify for and receive this type of visa. The following is a brief guide to help potential applicants prepare.

Filing the Petition

The first step to take when applying for a visa for a spouse is to complete and file Form I-130, which is a Petition for Alien Relative. Petitioners will need to submit this document to the Department of Homeland Security.

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), some American citizens living out of the country may file an immigrant visa petition while living abroad. However, the U.S. sponsor must maintain his or her principal residence in the U.S. at the time of petitioning.

Lawful permanent residents (LPRs) can file a petition for spouses along with U.S. citizens, but if an LPR changes the status to a U.S. citizen, he or she will need to upgrade the petition to an immediate relative (IR).

Beginning the Application Process

Once USCIS approves Form I-130, the National Visa Center (NVC) will receive it. From there, NVC will issue a specific case number and require the petitioner to file Form DS-261, which is a form called Choice of Address and Agent. 

After completing and filing this form, NVC will charge petitioners fees for certain services, including filing Form I-130, processing visa applications, required medical exams and vaccinations, and other extraneous expenses.

Applicants for spouse visas will also need documentation, such as passports that are valid for six months past the designated date of entering the U.S., Two 2×2 photographs of the applicant, an Affidavit of Support, completed medical examination forms, and civil documents.

Applicants can then take an interview at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy once these institutions receive the applicant’s documents. It’s important for applicants to bring their passports along with previously unsubmitted documents to their interview.

Wait for the Process to Complete

Following the interview, the next step will be to wait for the process to finish and to receive the visa. The amount of time it takes to receive the spouse visa will depend on a variety of factors, including whether the applicant adheres to instructions, along with the need for additional administrative processing.

For assistance with the application process and to learn more about how to ensure the process goes smoothly, applicants can seek the help of spouse visa lawyers,