A U.S. citizen who is legally married to a foreign national may petition (I-130) for their spouse to obtain a visa. This guide will help you know how to properly put together your petition before mailing it to USCIS.
Know which visa your spouse is eligible for
Before starting the process, it is important that you know which visa you can petition for. If you are married to a foreign national and your marriage is less than two years old, the consulate will issue your spouse a CR-1 Visa. This means, your spouse will become a Conditional Permanent Resident upon entry into the United States. However, If you have been married for longer than two years, the consulate will issue your spouse a IR-1 visa. This results in full Permanent Residency upon your spouse's arrival on U.S. soil.
I always encourage petitioners to include a cover letter that describes what you are petitioning for and that lists the supporting documents. The cover letter should be typed and it should be one page or less. The point of the cover letter is to present an organized package, making it easier for the immigration officer to process the petition. Do not forget to date and sign the cover letter.
The first thing you should do is to verify the current forms on www.uscis.gov. It is important to ensure that you have the most up to date form because they make changes to these forms on a regular basis. The next step is to download both the form and the instructions. Read the instructions carefully to know how to answer each question. After you read the instructions, you are now ready to fill out the form. The easiest way may be to download the form, fill it out on your computer, and print it out. Whatever you cannot type on the computer can be handwritten into the form after printing it out. You may also handwrite the entire form in black ink only. If you decide to handwrite your answers, make sure you print clearly and legibly. Not doing so may delay your petition.
Gather Your Supporting Documents
You need to include the following documents for processing: proof of petitioner's citizenship (a copy of birth certificate or a copy of U.S. passport), naturalization certificate (If petitioner is a naturalized citizen), a copy of your marriage certificate, divorce documents or death certificate of prior spouse, two passport photos of petitioner, and two passport photos of foreign national.
One of the most important documents to include is proof of a bonafide marriage. You should include any document that shows ongoing marital union. Examples of such documents include, but not limited to: birth certificates of children born to both the petitioner and foreign national, documents showing commingling of finances, documents showing joint property ownership, affidavits sworn to or affirmed by third parties, etc. This is not an exhaustive list. You should talk to lawyer to help you determine what evidence would be acceptable to prove bonafide marriage in your case.
Pay, Sign, Review, and Mail
At this point, you are almost done with your package. You need to include your filing fee as required by USCIS. Check www.uscis.gov for the accurate payment amount. You may use a personal check or money order. Review form I-130 instructions to properly address your check or money order.
Sign and date the form appropriately.
Review the form and the supporting documents to ensure you have answered all the questions and have included all evidence of bonafide marriage. Make a copy of the entire package and keep it for your records. Remember to only submit the original form that you downloaded from the website, do not submit the copy.
Note: All supporting documents must be in English or translated. You must submit both non English document and the English translation.
You should mail the complete package to the proper USCIS Lockbox. Follow the mailing information on the I-130 instructions to identify the proper location or P.O. Box to send the package. Mail the package and keep the tracking number. You should also indicate to the postal service that you would like someone to sign for the package upon delivery.
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