This EZ guide assumes the beneficiary is living abroad and U.S. Citizen petitioner is in the USA. Even if both spouses are living together abroad the petition is most likely to be sent to the Chicago lockbox in the USA as there is only a limited number of countries that have a USCIS office and offer DCF (Direct Consular Filing.) In a few cases DCF may be available, so check this website to see if there is a USCIS office in your country. International Immigration Offices If there is a USCIS office in your country of residence, you can check that country's embassy pages to find out if DCF is available and what the requirements are.
The main purpose of this guide is to get an overall picture of this entire IR1/CR1 process. After reading it, please review the detailed steps in other guides in VJ. Please refer the latest fee and address to send the packet at USCIS/NVC website. The requirements for children are a bit different than for a spouse so please also read other guides and the I-130 instructions for those specifics.
Do not send original civil documents to the USCIS, unless asked. They are needed for NVC step.
1) U.S Petitioner files I-130 petition for the foreign beneficiary with Chicago or Phoenix Lockbox - this is specific for each state so check the I-130 instructions-
I-130 Packet a. Completed and signed form I-130 b. I-130 filing fee ($535) c. 2 passport photographs of Petitioner. Beneficiary does not send these if they're not in the USA d. Completed Form I-130A from the beneficiary. It doesn't need to be signed if beneficiary is not in the USA. e. Proof of petitioner's U.S citizenship: Copy of U.S Birth Certificate, OR Entire U.S. Passport OR Naturalization certificate f. Proof of Relationship Primary evidence - Copy of marriage certificate Secondary evidence - Scroll to Bottom of the page to see a detailed list g. Copy of divorce decree of petitioner and/or beneficiary, if applicable h. Completed form G-1145 for email/phone notification
2) Petitioner receives hard copy of I-130 Receipt known as Notice of Action (NOA1) in about 2 to 3 weeks from the filing date
3) Sign up for case notifications on the USCIS website.
4) Wait period starts - Typically 4 to 8 months
5) USCIS sends I-130 approval notice called NOA2 to the petitioner and the case is forwarded to NVC in 1-8 weeks.
Tip to speed up NVC: In order to save some time in NVC, obtain beneficiary's Police Clearance Certificates (PCC) at around the I-130 approval time. PCC may be valid for 1 year, 6 months, 3 months or even 1 month, so please check with the beneficiary's Consulate.
Be proactive with NVC to speed up the things, rather than reactive!
1) After receiving the case from the USCIS (which can take up to 8 weeks), NVC assigns a case# within 60 calendar days (also called DOS Case#)
2) Call NVC at 603-334-0700 to get NVC Case#, to provide both the petitioner and beneficiary email addresses, and to get IIN (Invoice Identification Number)
3) Fill out DS-261 (Online Choice of Agent and Address) making the U.S petitioner as the agent. The NVC likes to have a U.S. Address on file even though everything is done by e-mail.
4) Log in to NVC online payment system at https://ceac.state.gov/CTRAC/Invoice/signon.aspx to see AOS fee is generated. (IV will not be generated until DS-261 is accepted unless you have a lawyer; then you will receive both)
5) Pay Affidavit of Support review fee $120 (AOS - I-864/I-864EZ)
6) When the status shows 'PAID', print out AOS barcode sheet and IV barcode sheet or Use Document Cover Sheet as provided by the NVC
7) Mail AOS packet and IV packet to NVC (NVC is currently asking for both packages to be mailed at the same time which you can do after paying the AOS - Do not wait for the IV fee to send the IV and AOS documents!)
A joint sponsor's AOS is needed if the petitioner's income is below the poverty line defined in I-864P every year. This poverty guideline changes from year to year so make sure you're using a current I-864P
AOS Packet a. Bar-coded cover sheet b. Completed and signed form I-864 by the petitioner c. IRS tax transcripts for the last one or three years (can be printed online, ordered over the phone, or obtained from IRS office.) d. Petitioner's employment letter, AND/OR e. Petitioner's pay stubs for the last 3-6 months f. Any joint sponsor AOS package, if needed
IV Packet a. Bar-coded cover sheet b. 2 US Passport-sized photographs of the beneficiary (name, dob, and case number on the back) c. Photocopy of the biographic data page of the beneficiary's passport d. Photocopy of birth certificate of the beneficiary e. Photocopy of marriage certificate of the beneficiary and the petitioner f. Photocopy of police certificate(s) of the beneficiary, (in some countries this is not available) g. Photocopy of divorce decree of the beneficiary's prior marriage(s), if applicable h. Photocopy of military records of the beneficiary, if applicable i. Photocopy of Court records, if applicable
8) Pay Immigrant Visa fee of $325 (If you have a lawyer this would have become available with the AOS fee)
9) When the Immigrant Visa application (DS-260) becomes available, complete that online and submit - both petitioner and beneficiary can complete this however make sure it's correct! Triple check!!!
10) NVC reviews both packages and completes the case in about 30-60 calendar days.
11) NVC books interview for Beneficiary at the consulate - this can happen anywhere from a few days to 8+ months depending on the country.
12) NVC forwards to the beneficiary's AOS and IV packages to U.S consulate
Foreign Consulate Steps
1) Consulate receives the NVC package - CEAC status will say "Ready"
2) Beneficiary proceeds for medical with the U.S panel physician. Don't open the sealed medical envelope from the physician
3) Beneficiary proceeds for Consulate interview
Interview packet a. Visa interview appointment letter b. Beneficiary’s original passport c. Beneficiary’s Medical Report d. Evidence to prove marital relationship in addition to the marriage certificate e. Bring all ORIGINAL beneficiary documents f. Copy of entire package or updated AOS package (optional)
4) If approved, passport will either be shipped to beneficiary or available for pick up when the visa has been inserted. This varies by consulate so check in your regional forum about the method used.
5) Come to the U.S before visa expiry date (normally 6 months from medical date) and hand over sealed visa packet to the officer at POE. They will stamp the page beside the visa, making it a valid temporary green card for up to 1 year. This temporary green card will do EVERYTHING that a hard copy green card will.
6) Either before or after POE, go to https://www.uscis.gov/file-online/uscis-immigrant-fee to create an account to pay the "Immigrant Fee" of $220. Your green card will not be mailed until you pay this fee. Within 1-6 months the Green Card will be mailed to you after paying the fee or POE, whichever comes later.
7) SSN may arrive on it's own but if it does not, go to the local SSA office and obtain one.
1) If the petitioner changes the address during the I-130 part of the process, notify the USCIS (or else provide new address on I-864 at NVC) - There is no need to notify the USCIS of the beneficiary changing addresses unless they move to a new country.
2) If the beneficiary needs to change consulates because they've moved to a different country, notify the NVC ASAP!
3) If the petitioner or any joint sponsor changes the address after green card, file I-865, within 30 days, until the I-864 contract ends
4) If the beneficiary changes their address after arrival, file AR-11 (which can be done online) within 10 days of obtaining a new address
5) Certain petitioners can expedite the process if they qualify the expedite criteria defined by the USCIS, such as active military service, natural disasters in beneficiary's country, etc... Check all options in the USCIS website
6) If the beneficiary is a male between the age 18 to 26 years old while arriving the U.S, he must register with the Selective Service of the U.S in order to avoid further issues with the U.S. citizenship.
7) If the beneficiary gets a conditional 2 year CR1 Green card,they must remove the conditiosn by filing I-751 starting 90 days before the 2 year GC expires. Do not be late!
8) The beneficiary may apply U.S citizenship 90 days before 3 years in the U.S, by filing N-400 but only if they are still married to the petitioner. Relationship evidence will be required. The beneficiary can wait for the 5 year rule instead.
Now, Are you ready to read the detailed steps? Yes, then it is here: http://www.visajourney.com/wiki/index.php/How_to_bring_your_foreign_spouse_to_live_in_the_US
Though USCIS and Consulate are liberal to the petitioner's and beneficiary's marital relationship from certain countries, it is stricter to some other countries. So, if you feel you need more evidences, please use the samples below. Some of them may not be applicable to you. Also, if you have any other evidence that is not listed, please feel free to add it. While sending to USCIS, send the copies only, because the same will be needed at the Consulate interview later.
USCIS defined secondary evidences
1) Documentation showing joint ownership or property
2) Lease showing joint tenancy of a common residence
3) Documentation showing co-mingling of financial resources
4) Birth certificate(s) of child(ren) born to the petitioner and the beneficiary
5) Affidavits sworn to or affirmed by third parties having personal knowledge of the bona fides of the marital relationship
6) Any other relevant documentation to establish that there is an ongoing marital union
Sample secondary evidences
- Asset purchase documentation such as home, car etc. under both names such as joint titles, joint names in car registration
- Joint loans together in mortgage, auto etc...
- Lease of the home, car, etc... under both names
- Joint bank account in petitioner's and/or beneficiary's country
- Stocks, mutual funds, retirement funds documentation together or naming the other spouse as a beneficiary
- Credit, Debit, ATM card details under both names
- Money transfer documentation that shows spousal support (be careful as this may look like purchasing or paying for immigration benefits)
- Life Insurance Policy under both the petitioner and the beneficiary names
- Wills prepared by the petitioner and/or the beneficiary showing other as beneficiary
- Joint income tax returns
- Joint church tax statements
- Joint utility bills such as phone, electricity, water, gas, internet, cable TV etc...
- Child's birth certificate, passport, CRBA with both parents names
- Child's hospital records that shows both parents names and expenses incurred
- Petitioner and beneficiary's child(ren)'s school records, school report cards, etc...
- Baptism certificate of child(ren) of the petitioner and the beneficiary
- Notarized affidavits from parents, relatives etc. to show that they knew and participated in the marriage
- Third party letters with date, name, relationship, contact phone#, address etc., those who attended the marriage mainly from parents, relatives, friends etc.
- Personal notarized affidavits that describe how the relationship is evolved like first meeting, who arranged the meeting, how long you knew each other before marriage, how is the relationship until now etc.
- All the dated trips of the petitioner and/or the beneficiary to meet each other - passport stamps, plane tickets, boarding passes etc.
- Tickets, invoices, boarding passes of honeymoon trip(s) that shows both persons' name together with the date
- Hotel receipts, Rental car receipts, Gift receipts or any other miscellaneous receipts of the expenses incurred between the petitioner and the beneficiary
- Wedding ring and other wedding related gifts' receipts
- Auto Insurance Policy under both the petitioner and the beneficiary names
- Health Insurance Policy under both the petitioner and the beneficiary names
- Dated pictures together - Before marriage, Wedding Album, pictures taken in every occasion
- Marriage invitation card
- Marriage documentation of the religious ceremony from church, mosque, temple etc.
- Phone logs
- Chat logs
- Skype screenshots and logs
- Greeting cards to each other and addressed to both spouses, such as Christmas cards, Anniversary cards, Birthday cards etc.
- Joint memberships like Sams, Costco, AAA, fitness etc.
- Driver's license, State ID that shows the same address
- Invitation of any function or ceremony stating both names
- Junk mail addressed to both spouses at the same address
- Magazine subscriptions under both names
- Pet adoption or purchase records with both names
-- Updated by NikLR on 08 January 2017 --
-- Updated by NLR on 25 November 2014 --
--Lotofpatience 19:35, 10 September 2010 (UTC)
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NOTE: The above information does not address the specific requirements for any given case and is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.