Chicago Spouse Visa Immigration Lawyer

A happy couple looking at each other while walking on the beach and holding an American flag.

Are you looking to reunite with your spouse through a marriage visa? The separation of foreign spouses can impact a couple’s quality of life and the security of a marriage. Although the marriage visa process is daunting, a Chicago spouse visa immigration lawyer can help your application stay on track and guide you to your marriage green card. Our attorneys have over 30 years of experience helping couples reach their immigration goals.

A happy couple looking at each other while walking on the beach and holding an American flag.

For help with your spouse visa in Chicago, call an immigration lawyer at Cho Immigration Law for a free consultation. (312) 853-3088.

Types of Marriage Visas

Marriage visas allow spouses separated by international barriers to reunite and start a life together on American soil. There are two paths prospective immigrants can take to unite with their U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. These include CR-1 and IR-1 visas. 

The conditional resident (CR-1) and immediate relative (IR-1) visas are two types of immigrant visas for spouses of U.S. citizens. These visas apply to marriages of different lengths and allow for different provisions. Marriages of 2 years or less qualify for CR-1 visas, which provide 2 years of conditional residency. Spouses can remove the visa’s conditions and seek permanent residency within 90 days of expiration of conditional status. 

Marriages that have lasted 2 or more years qualify for IR-1 visas. These visas grant unconditional permanent residency upon entry. 

All marriage visas require proof of a bona fide marriage and a thorough documentation process to ensure eligibility. A spouse visa immigration lawyer in Chicago can help prospective immigrant couples determine what path to citizenship fits their situation and navigate the marriage green card process.

The Marriage Green Card Process

Obtaining a Marriage Green Card in the United States is a milestone for foreign nationals who wish to reunite with their U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. The spouse visa process involves several steps, each with its own obstacles and timelines. Without prior experience filing for a marriage visa, prospective immigrants may be lost when embarking on their immigration journey. An experienced immigration lawyer can help prospective immigrants pursue lawful resident status through the following steps:

Determining Eligibility for a Spouse Visa

Spouses of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents typically qualify for a spouse visa. These visas differ from K-1 fiancée visas, where prospective spouses are not yet wedded. To qualify, spouses must prove that the marriage is legally recognized in the home country and in the U.S. and demonstrate that the marriage is bona fide and not for immigration purposes.

Additionally, the citizen or permanent resident spouse must be willing to sponsor his or her foreign spouse. The immigrating spouse must pass admissibility restrictions for health and criminal background, and the sponsoring spouse must submit an Affidavit of Support to prove he or she will financially support the immigrating spouse. 

Filing a Petition and Awaiting Petition Approval

The first step in the marriage visa process is for the sponsoring spouse to file a Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) with USCIS. This petition serves as proof of the citizen’s intentions to sponsor the foreign spouse. Once this petition is submitted to USCIS, it can take several months for it to be processed and approved. Upon approval, this petition is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) to proceed with the immigration process.

Fees, Affidavit of Support, and the Visa Application

Once the NVC receives the petition, they will assign a petition number and direct the applicant on paying the appropriate fees. These fees cover the cost of the immigrant visa application processing fee, affidavit of support processing fee, and costs for medical exams and vaccines. Once fees are paid, the applicant must submit all required documents to NVC, such as an Affidavit of Support, any application forms, civil documents, and other requested documentation. 

Examinations, Investigations, and Interviews

Before visa approval, prospective immigrants must undergo a medical examination by an approved panel physician and receive any required vaccinations. Once this exam is complete, and all necessary documentation is submitted to NVC, a visa interview is scheduled. Additionally, applicants will be screened for ineligibility such as prior drug charges, previous visa overstays, and fraudulent documents.

Conditional or Unconditional Residency Is Granted

Once an immigrant’s visa application is approved, he or she will be granted conditional or unconditional residency status, depending on the length of the marriage. If the applicant has no conditions on his or her residency status, he or she becomes a lawful permanent resident at this stage.

Removal of Conditions

If the applicant has conditions on his or her visa, these can be lifted through an application within 90 days of the expiration of their 2 year conditional status. Once the immigrant has received removal of these conditions, he or she becomes a permanent resident. 

The Chicago attorneys at Cho Immigration Law can help guide you through getting a spouse visa. Call (312) 853-3088.

FAQs About Spousal Immigration in the United States

Can Same-Sex Couples Apply for a Spouse Visa?

Same-sex couples have equal rights when pursuing a spouse visa. The processes for proving a marriage and petitioning on behalf of a spouse, as well as the requirements that must be met, are the same regardless of sexual orientation.

How Long Do Spouse Visas Take?

The process of obtaining a spouse visa can take anywhere from one to three years, depending on the sponsor’s residential location, the volume of visas in process, and whether the sponsor was a citizen or a green card holder. An immigration lawyer can help the visa application process move more seamlessly by eliminating errors, helping to organize documentation, and ensuring an applicant meets all requirements and deadlines.