Spousal immigration is one of the most common ways for people to join their loved ones in California or elsewhere in the United States. Of course, people who marry want to live together in the same place as quickly as possible. Still, delays in processing time or for lengthy investigations may keep people separated for longer than they may expect. At congressional hearings into the issue of processing delays in the U.S. immigration system, spousal sponsorships were specifically identified as an area of concern where action is needed to improve the system.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration publishes processing times for spousal immigration applications. However, these processing times may not show the full picture of the delays experienced by couples seeking a spousal sponsorship. For example, the USCIS website reports a five-month processing time for I-130 applications. These are submitted by U.S. citizen spouses seeking to sponsor their partners. While this application takes five months to process, the longer processing time begins only after that is approved. The foreign spouse must then apply to adjust status to permanent residency if he or she is in the country or to enter the U.S. from abroad if living outside.
Spouses inside the U.S. may face a several-month delay in receiving a work permit, which can increase the cost of the already expensive immigration process. For those outside, the wait can be longer. The National Visa Center may take four to six months to review submitted paperwork, and later required interviews and security checks at a consulate may take even more time, especially if security flags are raised.
There are some ways that people can help speed their process along when dealing with the immigration system. An immigration law attorney may provide advice and guidance on preparing documents and submitting paperwork in order to minimize delays and expedite an application.