U.S. Citizens Petitioning for a Foreign Spouse

Written by Carmen Villamor

Love knows no culture or nationality.  How then can you ensure a happily ever after when your better half resides in another country and is of a different nationality? Here’s a case study of Miguel and his foreign national wife who has a minor child (not Miguel’s).  

Miguel is a U.S. citizen who met his wife Louisa abroad. Louisa has a 12-year old son from a previous marriage. Miguel is planning to travel to Mexico for their wedding and return to the U.S. with Louisa and his new stepson. Miguel is concerned about what steps he needs to take to ensure that Louisa and her son enter the U.S. legally.

Filing a Spousal Petition.
The first step is for Miguel and Louisa to get married. Once they are married, Miguel can file a Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) for Louisa with USCIS. The I-130 approval signifies that Miguel is qualified to sponsor his wife, Louisa; and that Miguel and Louisa are legally married.

Miguel should also file a Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) for Louisa's son. This is because USCIS regulations allow the filing of a step-child petition as long as the couple marry before the child's eighteenth birthday.

When the Form I-130s are approved, the approvals will be sent for consular processing and the consulate or embassy will provide notification and processing information. An immigrant visa interview will be scheduled for Louisa and her son. Miguel does not need to be present.

In the normal course of things, the consulate will issue immigrant visas and Louisa and her son will enter the U.S. as green cardholders.

Conditional Residence and Removing Conditions
Spouses who have been married less than 2 years when granted permanent resident status, will receive permanent resident status on a conditional basis. An application to remove conditional status will have to be filed within the 90-day period before the expiration date on the conditional resident card.

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