Marriage Visa For Spouses

Of U.S. Citizens Outside of United States



Marriage Visa Information

Visa Overview If Outside U.S.

Flow Chart If Outside U.S.

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Related Information

Fiance(e) of U.S. Citizen

Marriage Visa If Inside U.S.

Family-based Immigration


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The Marriage visa allows for the spouse of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States as a permanent resident.  To obtain permanent residency, a couple must obtain a marriage visa and then the foreign national must go through “consular processing” and attend an interview at the local U.S. consulate.

Marriage Visa Qualifications

To be eligible for the marriage visa and consular processing, a foreign national must be married to a U.S. citizen and must be seeking lawful permanent residency.  It does not matter how long a foreign national and a U.S. citizen has been married.  A person who is married for one day is just as eligible as a couple that has been married for ten years.

Marriage Visa and Consular Processing Steps

Outside the United States

To obtain a marriage visa for the foreign national spouse, a U.S. citizen must first file an immigrant visa petition with the USCIS.  Once the petition is filed, the U.S. citizen and foreign national must wait for the USCIS to make a determination.  Once the marriage visa petition is approved by USCIS, the case is transferred to the U.S. State Department for consular processing.  The State Department will request certain documents and certificates, and then (once the receive the required documents) will schedule the foreign national spouse for an interview with a U.S. official at a U.S. consulate abroad.  After the interview, a visa will be issued that will allow the foreign national spouse to enter the United States and reunite with the U.S. citizen spouse.

After Entering United States

Upon entering the United States, the foreign national spouse will have permanent residency.  With permanent residency, the spouse will be able to work and travel abroad.

If the couple is recently married, the foreign national will only be granted conditional permanent residency, and will need to complete additional steps before the conditions on the permanent residency are removed.  However, those steps will not need to be completed until approximately two years after the couple enters the United States.

A spouse of a U.S. citizen can generally apply for U.S. citizenship three years after obtaining lawful permanent residency (either conditional or not).

Marriage Visa and Consular Processing Costs:

Government Filing Fee: $420*

Legal Services Flat Fee: $1950

Marriage Visa: Frequently Asked Questions

Can I transform a K-1 visa into a Marriage visa?

No.  Unfortunately, a k1 beneficiary cannot transform a k1 visa into a marriage visa or a K-3 visa.  If a k1 beneficiary marries before entering into the United States, the foreign national spouse cannot use the k1 visa to enter the United States and must apply for a new visa (most likely a marriage visa).

Will my children be able to come to the United States with me as a Marriage visa holder?

Generally, yes.  Children who are under the age of 21 will be able to obtain a visa that will allow the child to come to the United States.  However, it is often the case that a separate visa must be sought for each child (the visa is independent of the foreign national spouse’s visa.

Will the foreign national spouse be able to obtain work authorization?

Yes.  Once a foreign national spouse enters the United States and receives permanent residency, the foreign national will be able to work.

What is Direct Consular Processing?  And Am I Eligible For It?

Direct Consular Processing is a process by which a couple is able to apply for an I-130 directly to the local U.S. consulate without having to file with the USCIS.  This generally greatly reduces the time apart.  Unfortunately, direct consular processing was once much more pervasive and the practice is basically non-existent right now.

*The $420 government filing fee represents the cost of filing an I-130.  Filing the I-130 is necessary to apply for a K-3 visa.  If filed in conjunction with an I-130, there is no K-3 visa filing fee.