My I-130 has been approved for my overseas spouse. Does this mean that I'm almost finished? Hi, Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. We recently got hired by a client who had filed an I-130 petition for an alien relative for his oversea spouse. The spouse is from Thailand and he thought that he was pretty much finished. He was wondering why we needed to charge additional legal fees and what extra work needed to be done. Let's talk about the overall process so that I can tell you how I explained things to him.
When you're a US citizen or a green card holder for that matter, you have the ability to sponsor your husband or wife for a green card and for a visa to come to the United States. The first part of that process deals with the US Citizenship and Immigration Service, USCIS, and then also filing a form called an I-130. There're some other forms that you file with that along with evidence of the marriage, but basically, you're petitioning for an approval of a visa application for down the road for your spouse.
How does it work? You send in the I-130. The case gets processed about 4 or 5 months and then it gets approved. That's the stage that this fellow happened to contact us. He thought he was pretty much done and that his wife would be here soon. We had to explain to him that there's a lot more work involved at that point. After your case is approved at USCIS it takes about 30 days for the case to get to what's called the National Visa Center, the NVC.
The NVC is part of the state department. It's where they process all the visa paperwork before it is actually sent to the embassies. The NVC, you have to submit a whole new set of documents and you also have to submit a new application. I know it sounds silly but you have to remember you're dealing with 2 huge federal agencies. In these cases you file a form called the DS-260 which is an electronic form that is actually applying for the visa, and you have to submit all this evidence about the individual coming and about the person who's sponsoring them, sort of where the person is going to live when they get here, and a lot of information about the person's criminal background and all those things.
After you submit the DS-260 you also have to submit something called the affidavit of support. We've lots of videos on that, so if you want to learn about the affidavit of support, just search for that, but basically it's a promise by the US citizen or a green card holder that if the non-citizen comes to the United States that they're going to support them and that the person is not going to become a public charge, they're not going to get benefits.
After you do that then you have to submit the checklist which is a lot of documentation related to the application. For most countries, you submit that by federal express or courier. For certain countries including Iraq you submit that electronically, so then via scanning in a bunch of PDFs and sending that all off. Typically the National Visa Center a lot of times will send back a checklist. They like to ask for lots of things. We do our very best to cut down on the number of checklists but invariably they ask for something else or something more. In any event, there's some back and forth.
Once the case gets approved to the National Visa Center, which takes about 3 or 4 months because they are a little bit behind, then your case gets put in the line for an interview. Depending on how busy the embassy is this line for the interview can be several months. Then you're at a point where you're waiting for your spouse to get their visa appointment. Then your spouse is going to get an appointment. They're going to bring their passport, all their identity documents. They're going to want to bring copies of everything that has been submitted to the National Visa Center. In some situations, they're going to ask for originals.
But in any event eventually the interview will come and your spouse will go to the embassy. It will be a relatively short interview to make sure that the spouse still wants to come, that you're still married. They might need some background information about how they met. Then after that, the foreign national will leave their passport with the office and about a week or 2 later they should get it in the mail or federal express. Not mail, just federal express or courier. Or they'll be able to pick it up at the embassy. Then at that point, the person will have a visa to come. The one last stage before the person actually enters the United States is that you have to get online and pay a fee called the ELIS fee, which is the actual fee for the green card.
These are the steps that are involved after an I-130 is approved. We hope this explains things to people. There is a lot of work to be done after the I-130's been approved. The I-130 I wouldn't say is the easy part, but it is certainly the less time-consuming part and it's an overall long process. If you have any questions about this, give us a call at 314-961-8200 or can email me [email protected]. If you liked this video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and we'll be sure to update it from time to time. Thanks a lot.