Marriage Visa Flow Chart

For Spouses of U.S. Citizens

Outside the United States

Marriage Visa Information

Spousal Visa Overview

Flow Chart If Inside U.S.

Flow Chart If Outside U.S.



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Related Information

Fiance(e) of U.S. Citizen

Family-based Immigration


American Immigration Lawyers Association Member

American Immigration Lawyers

Association Member



Marriage Visa & Consular Processing

For Spouses of U.S. Citizens Outside the United States


The process for obtaining permanent residency for a spouse of U.S. citizen takes longer than one would expect. This process can be further delayed if mistakes are made in the petition and if incomplete documentation is provided to the government. Avoiding these mistakes is key, and a family immigration lawyer can help ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.

Step One. Couple Married & The Foreign National Is Outside The United States

A couple must be married to receive a spousal visa. If the foreign national spouse is not in the United States, it is necessary for the couple to apply for a marriage visa and to consular process to gain a permanent residency card to enter the United States.  Consular Process means that the foreign national will need to attend an interview at a consulate before entering the United States.

Step Two. Contact Gafner Law Firm

Once married, a couple should contact Gafner Law Firm.   The firm will communicate with both individuals to make sure all of the required documentation and forms are prepared.  Additionally, the firm will make sure that the couple knows what to expect during the process, and will make sure that the couple is eligible to obtain a permanent green card.

In certain circumstances, it may be possible to bypass many parts of this process.  Therefore, it is highly recommended that you contact a family immigration attorney to ensure your eligibility and to ensure you are not being needlessly delayed.

Step Three. Submit the Marriage Visa Petition to the USCIS

Once a family immigration lawyer reviews your case and prepares the marriage visa petition (complete with required documentation and forms) for you to review, the petition will be submitted to the USCIS. The USCIS is currently taking around five months to process petitions. This time frame can be extended if the required documents are not submitted the first time.

Step Four. USCIS Approves Petition

After about five months, the USCIS will grant the petition and will send notification to the couple.  Additionally, the USCIS will send the petition to the National Visa Center.

Step Five. National Visa Center Will Request Additional Documentation

The National Visa Center, which is run by the U.S. State Department, will notify the couple once it receives their approved petition.  The NVC will request that the couple submit additional documentation, and require the petitioner to send an Affidavit of Support.  This process can move very quickly if a couple is prepared for the process and know what to expect.  However, if a couple is not prepared, the process can take very long because a couple may need to track down certain documents.    Once all the documents are received, the NVC will notify the U.S. Consulate and an interview date will be set.

Step Six. Interview at Consulate

The foreign national spouse will be required to attend an interview at a U.S. consulate abroad.  AT the consulate, the immigration official will review the petition and make sure that the applicant is eligible for permanent residency in the United States.   Once the interview is successfully completed, the foreign national will be issued a visa to enter the United States.

Step Seven. Beneficiary Enters the United States and Receives Green Card

After successfully completing the interview, the applicant will be given a visa and allowed to enter the United States.  Once in the United States, the applicant will receive a green card (permanent residency card). If, at the time the green card is issued, the marriage is less than two years old, the green card will be a conditional green card. This means that the couple will need to submit a secondary petition (and attend another interview) two years after the card is issued. If the marriage is over two years old, then the green card will be permanent.