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by Andy J. Semotiuk
U.S. and Canadian Immigration Lawyer
How do I bring my spouse to live in the United States?
This information is for U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who wish to bring a spouse to live permanently in the U.S.

Definition of a Spouse
Before you file any documents, it is helpful to understand that “spouse” means lawful husband or wife. In order to successfully petition for an immigrant visa for your spouse, your relationship with your spouse must be established and your spouse must be admissible to the United States under the immigration law.

Overview of Immigration Process
A legal immigrant (or “lawful permanent resident”) is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of living and working permanently in the United States. There is a three step process for your spouse to become a legal immigrant:

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (U.S.C.I.S.) must approve an immigrant visa petition that you file for your spouse. The State Department visa bulletin must show that a spouse immigrant visa is available to your spouse, based on the date you filed the immigrant visa application. If your spouse is legally inside the U.S. when your visa petition is approved and when an immigrant visa number (if required) becomes available, he or she may apply to adjust his or her status to that of a lawful permanent resident.

Information for Citizens
If you are a U.S. citizen, your spouse is considered an immediate relative and is immediately eligible for an immigrant visa if your petition is approved. Generally, if your spouse is in the U.S. (through a lawful admission or parole) at the time you file the Petition for Alien Relative, your spouse may file an Application to Adjust Status at the same time. If he or she is outside the U.S., your spouse will need to go to the nearest U.S. consulate to apply for an immigrant visa.

Conditional Residence
If you have been married less than two years when your spouse is granted lawful permanent resident status, your spouse will receive permanent resident status on a conditional basis. You and your spouse must apply together to remove the conditions on residence. Please note – you must apply to remove conditional status within 90 days before the 2 year anniversary of the award date of your spouse’s conditional legal permanent resident status. If you fail to file during this time, your spouse will be considered out of status as of the 2 year anniversary, and may be subject to removal from the U.S.

Additional Information Background
An immigrant is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of living and working permanently in the United States. You must go through a multi step process to become an immigrant. In most cases, the U.S.C.I.S. must first approve an immigrant petition for you, usually filed by an employer or relative. Then, an immigrant visa number must be available to you, even if you are already in the United States. After that, if you are already in the United States, you may apply to adjust to permanent resident status (If you are outside the United States, you will be notified to go to the local U.S. consulate to complete the processing for an immigrant visa.)

Conditional Greencard
Please note your permanent residence status will be conditional if it is based on a marriage that was less than two years old on the day you were given permanent residence.

Contact me if you would like assistance with your case. You can reach me at or you can call me at my law firm details of which are on this web site.

Documents on the topic of cross border wedding or marriage problems:

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