When you live in the United States as a citizen but have married a non-citizen, you’ll need to file a petition for spousal sponsorship if you want your spouse to be able to move to the United States and become a permanent resident or green card holder. The process of applying for spousal sponsorship can seem a little overwhelming at first—but with the right information and help from an experienced legal team, you can move forward with confidence.
Who is Eligible for Spousal Sponsorship?
Start by making sure you and your spouse meet the basic eligibility requirements for spousal sponsorship in the United States. Fortunately, the requirements here are pretty straightforward. You must be either a United States citizen or a green card holder. You must also be able to provide proof of marriage.
Requirements, Documentation, and More
Once you’ve determined that you and your spouse are eligible, one of the most difficult tasks is determining how to apply, as the specific forms and documentation required can vary, depending on a number of factors. For example, if you’re a current United States citizen whose spouse is living outside the United States, you’ll need to file Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative). On the other hand, if your spouse is already inside the United States, you’ll need to file that form plus Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status).
Things can get even more complicated if you’re a green card holder and not a resident, as additional paperwork will need to be filled out. In all cases, you will need the proper forms and fees, in addition to other documentation, which may include:
- a copy of your United States passport
- a copy of your United States birth certificate
- a copy of your green card
- a copy of your certificate of citizenship.
What Happens While the Petition is Pending?
While your petition for spousal sponsorship is pending, your spouse may be able to come into the United States and begin living/working here so long as you are a United States citizen. He or she will need to apply for a non-immigrant K-3 visa in order to do this. On the other hand, you have the option of forgoing the additional paperwork and waiting until your petition is approved before your spouse comes to the United States.
What if a Spousal Sponsorship Petition is Denied?
There are many reasons that an initial petition for spousal sponsorship may be denied, including missing documentation or paperwork errors. If yours is denied, the reason will be explicitly stated in a formal letter to you, along with details on the appeals process.
You always have the option of appealing a denial of a spousal sponsorship petition, though your best bet (if your petition has been denied) is to contact an experienced immigration attorney for further guidance. He or she will be able to assess the specifics of your case and determine the best course of action for your appeal.
If you’re looking for assistance in applying for spousal sponsorship or if you’ve recently had a spousal sponsorship petition denied, having the right immigration attorney on your side can make all the difference. Contact our team at Carman Fullerton, PLLC to find out more about how we can assist you. You can set up your consultation by calling our office directly at (859) 309-5155; we proudly serve Lexington and the surrounding areas.
Attorney Kirby J. Fullerton
Mr. Fullerton’s practice is focused on immigration law. He speaks Spanish, and represents clients in cases before the immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals. He began his career practicing criminal defense, and understands how matters in criminal courts can affect a client’s immigration status. [Attorney Bio]