Can a Green Card Holder Bring a Non-US Citizen Spouse to the US?

A legal permanent resident (green card holder) can bring a husband or wife to the U.S. and help him or her get a green card. The sponsoring green card holders will need to get immigrant visas for the beneficiaries. Immigrant visas are permanent visas that permit the holders to travel to the U.S. as permanent residents.

Green card holders must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for their husband or wife, to help them get green cards. This form must be filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once these immigrant petitions are approved, USCIS will forward the petitions to the National Visa Center (NVC). NVC will process these applications and the hold the applications until visa numbers become available.

Once visa numbers become available, NVC will schedule interviews and forward the petitions to the U.S. embassies or consulates in their respective home countries. The beneficiaries must attend those interviews and submit the required documents. If their interviews are successful, immigrant visas will be granted to them. These visas will allow them to travel to the U.S. as legal residents. This process, called consular processing, is meant for the relatives and others abroad, for whom immigrant petitions have been filed.

Green card holders also can sponsor husbands or wives who are in the U.S. and file Form I-130 for them. These beneficiaries who are in the U.S. will need to maintain their lawful status until visa numbers become available, after which they can file applications for adjustment of status by filing the USCIS Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This adjustment of status process will help them get green cards while in America and not require them to leave the country to go through consular processing. However, they may not be able to adjust their status if they fall out of status before visa numbers become available to them.

The husband and wife of a green card holder does not qualify as an immediate relative, and only a certain number of visas are being issued to them every year. On the other hand the husband and wife of a U.S. citizen falls into the immediate relatives category that is not subject to annual numerical limitations.