Spouse of an American Citizen
USCIS Centralizes Filing of Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130
Effective August 15, 2011, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) centralized filing of the Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) immigrant visa petition. As such, petitioners residing in countries without USCIS offices, such as Hong Kong and Macau, must now file Form I-130 with the USCIS Chicago Lockbox facility. For details, see "USCIS News."
Immigrant Visa Categories:
IR1/CR1 - Spouse of a U.S. citizen
IR2/CR2 - Child of a U.S. citizen
Who is eligible?
The husband or wife of a United States citizen may be eligible for immigration in the immediate relative category (IR1/CR1). The natural child of a U.S. citizen may have a claim to U.S. citizenship. If the child is determined not to have a claim to citizenship, the child may be eligible for immigration under the IR2/CR2 immediate relative category. (Please note that a petition cannot be filed until it has been established that the child is not a U.S. citizen.) A step-parent or step-child will qualify for immigration only if the marriage creating the step parent/child relationship occurs before the child's eighteenth birthday.
How do I apply?
The first step in applying for an immigrant visa is for the U.S. citizen (petitioner) to file an immigrant visa petition, Form I-130, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). A separate petition must be filed for each person immigrating. Note: A petition cannot be filed for a spouse until the marriage has taken place.
What if I am getting married in Hong Kong or Macau and then plan to move to the U.S.?
If the marriage will take place in Hong Kong or Macau, the husband or wife of the U.S. citizen will require an immigrant visa to travel to the United States to take up indefinite residence. The petition, Form I-130, cannot be filed until the marriage has taken place. U.S. citizen (petitioner) residing in Hong Kong or Macau must file Form I-130 with the USCIS Chicago Lockbox facility. For details, see USCIS News.
What if I am married in the United States?
If the fiancée of a U.S. citizen intends to travel to the United States to marry and take up indefinite residence after marriage, she or he will require a fiancée visa. Please see fiancée visas for more information.
What if I am not planning to immigrate at this time? What type of visa do I need to travel to the U.S. for a short trip and return to Hong Kong and Macau?
The spouse of a U.S. citizen who would like to travel to the U.S. and return to his/her place of permanent residence abroad may apply for a tourist (B-2) visa, or if eligible, travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program. When applying for the visa and/or entry into the United States, the applicant should be sure to carry with him/her evidence of a residence abroad to which he/she will return at the end of the temporary visit.
Last modified: April 5, 2013