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The two processes for seeking a spousal visa

On Behalf of | May 10, 2024 | Immigration

When U.S. citizens or permanent residents wish to apply for spousal visas, they go through a process called “adjustment of status” if their husbands or wives are already living in the United States. If their husbands or wives live abroad, they go through a procedure called “consular processing.” The eligibility requirements for a spousal visa are the same regardless of which approach is taken, but the paperwork is different. Adjustment of status and consular processing applications are handled by different government agencies. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services processes adjustment of status applications, while consular processing paperwork is handled by the U.S. Department of State.

Adjustment of status

Spouses seeking family visas through the adjustment of status process must have an H-1B employment visa, F-1 student visa or some other visa that allows them to live legally in the United States. They must also maintain their valid immigration status for the duration of the application process. If this is not possible, they must leave the United States and seek a spousal visa through the consular processing procedure. This has become more of an issue in recent years as processing times have grown longer.

Consular processing

Spouses should leave the United States and go through the consular spousal visa process if their student or employment-based visas expire. If they remain in the United States after their visas expire, they could be barred from reentering the country for up to 10 years. Spouses may be able to avoid being barred by applying for a “waiver of inadmissibility” before they leave the country. Consular processing is also a good option if spouses wish to spend some time in their home countries before settling down in the United States.

Country of residence and immigration status

The foreign spouses of U.S. citizens or permanent residents can obtain spousal visas through either the adjustment of status of consular processing procedures. The adjustment of status process is followed when spouses are already living legally in the United States. If spouses live abroad or their student or employment-based visas expire, they can obtain spousal visas from overseas through the consular process.