Since the concurrent filing is not possible in this case - each step must be processed sequentially. Hence this will add a little bit more to the overall timeline.
This column will cover the specific case matching the petitioner and beneficiary situation regarding their current residency and citizenship.
- Sponsor is an American citizen.
2. The beneficiary is living abroad.
Processing Steps —
Since the beneficiary physically not present in this country, the first step of this process involves sponsoring your partner through "I-130 - Petition for Allien Relative". And in this step, you are validating the legitimacy of the marriage with USCIS.
Once you correctly filed I-130 and mailed to USCIS mailing address. You may receive the receipt notice in about two weeks, confirming that they received your package. You can track the processing status using the receipt number in the USCIS portal.
Then, the USCIS process usually takes about seven to ten months to decide your application, whether to approve or not.
Your Petition approved, What Next?
Now, assuming that you have approved a petition for the I-130 application provided by USCIS.
You can expect that USCIS transfer your case to the local National Visa Center (NVC). From them, you will start receiving a notification about "Consular Processing" and the rest of the process to complete before appearing for an interview with the local embassy or consulate in your country.
NVC will assign a case number, which will be your reference going forward for the rest of the processing.
The interview with spouse country embassy/consulate should involve three steps process.
- DS-161 - "Online Choice of Address and Agent." With that, you are informing the state department about how to communicate with your spouse for further processing
- DS-161 is online and easy to process. Once NVC handled the application, you will receive a notification to pay for the State department processing fee and processing financial support form, which comes together $445, and you can pay the fees online.
- Once your payment is processed, then you can start the actual "Immigration Application for your spouse using - DS-260."
- NVC will have to process your case package with all the supporting documents collected from applicants and sponsors. And validate for eligibility and authentication before transferring to the local consulate for an interview.
Appearing for an Interview —
In addition to submitting documents, there are few pre-interview requirements that a spouse has to complete.
- Completing Medical Examination
- Biometric and fingerprinting with local visa application processing center.
In all the cases, an Interview is the final major hurdle to overcome. Prepare well and have your supporting document organized. And if a counselor convinced about your relationship and materials furnished to support your case. He or she will immediately grant a visa for legal entry into the United States.
Eligibility to Travel —
With a visa stamped in the spouse's passport, he/she can seek entry into the USA. Once reached here inside the USA, you can apply for a physical green card from USCIS, which is going to cost $220.
How much time and money does this cost?
The overall process may take anywhere from 10 to 20 months and cost you direct fees to the government and medical examination to the tune of $1400. Note, this does not include any external service you may arrange with an immigration attorney. And. You should plan for $3000 expenditure from start to end.
You can find the detailed breakup of costs and list of documents to consider for most of the cases —