By Attorney Beau Russell
If you are married to a U.S. Citizen (or have a U.S. Citizen child older than 21 or you yourself are a child, 21 years or younger, of a U.S. Citizen) they can apply for you to move to the U.S. permanently. In fact, this is one of the most “straight-forward” methods of permanently moving to the United States. This is a process many immigration attorneys refer to as “consular processing”. The process involves two major steps with some small procedures in between. First, the U.S. citizen files a petition (application) in the U.S. and then, once the petition is approved, the foreign spouse applies at a U.S. embassy or consulate for a visa.
The assumption is that this is a quick process. The U.S. government even calls the first application an “immediate relative” petition and will be quick to tell you that there is no waiting time for the petition to become current (other family members such as siblings or adult children may have to up to 20 years!). The reality, however, is that this process can easily take nine months to a year to complete. This is due to the long time it takes to review the first application, around 6 months. Then, to complete the process with the Embassy, it can take another 3 to 6 months. This is a long time to be apart from a loved one.
There are some wrinkles and creative solutions for those who do not want to spend this long time apart waiting. These solutions include fiancé visas, in-country processing by USCIS, asking an Embassy or Consulate to take direct jurisdiction over the petition or considering a Non-Immigrant visa (a business, tourist or work visa for example) while the petition is pending. It should be pointed out, however, that the Non-Immigrant Visa option is extremely tricky because a person who is entering the United States on a Non-Immigrant visa, in most cases, may not intend to remain permanently in the United States.
In the end, everybody’s particular situation is different and there may be some factors that allow you to avoid this excruciatingly long time apart. In some cases, unfortunately, waiting is simply unavoidable. If and your loved one are considering moving to the United States and want to explore the fastest option or the option that eliminates your time apart, please contact our offices and we would be happy to explore your options with you.
Beau Russell is a U.S. Immigration attorney located in the Copenhagen Area. For the past several years in California he has helped hundreds of individuals solve their U.S. Immigration issues. Beau joined THOMAS MARTIN in 2015 and works from our Copenhagen Offices. His specialty is assisting businesses and families obtain non-immigrant/temporary visa and permanent/immigration visas (“green cards”) to the U.S.