Going to the U.S. to work is a dream come true for anyone. You're keen to take your career to the next level and explore life in a new country. At the same time, starting over is a challenge. You have to make new friends, understand a different culture, and find your feet. The transition becomes easier if you have your family with you. Taking your family with you also involves taking care of paperwork and documentation. This piece will explain the processes you need to follow for taking your family along with you to the US.
Traveling on an H1B Visa
If you are an H1B visa holder, your spouse can apply for their H-4 visa to join you. An H-4 visa will enable your spouse to live, work, and study in the U.S. and will be valid for the same amount of time as your H1B visa. If you have unmarried children under 21, they can also apply for the H4 visa.
H-4 visa holders can study in the US and take up any unpaid volunteering position. If they wish to take up paid employment, they must first apply for an employment authorization document (EAD).
To apply for their H-4 visa, your spouse will first have to file form DS-160 online and schedule an interview at the local U.S. consulate. They will also be required to submit specific documents. After getting their H-4 visa, your spouse can apply for a US Green Card.
Filing an immigrant spouse visa for the US
If you've been in the US for some time and want your spouse to join you, here are the steps you need to take:
1. File a petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130)
You need to file this with the Department of Homeland Security, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for your spouse. Once the USCIS approves the petition, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC).
2. Documentation and payment of fees
A passport with a specified period of validity, affidavits of support, photographs, civil documents, and completed medical examination forms are required while filing a spouse visa for the US The petitioner must pay specific fees for the petition filing service, immigrant visa application processing, and other miscellaneous documentation costs.
3. Visa interview
Your spouse's interview appointment will be scheduled after the NVC examines the files and is satisfied that the documents fulfill all the legal requirements. After this, they will be interviewed at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The interviewees must bring their valid passports and other required documents that haven't already been submitted to NVC for approval.
4. Medical examination
Before appearing for the interview, your spouse will be required to complete a medical examination by an authorized panel physician and receive any vaccinations if needed.
5. Issuance of immigrant Visa
If the spouse's visa for the US is approved, your spouse will obtain theirs within a few months of submitting their application. Along with the immigrant visa, they will also receive a sealed packet containing the documents they provided. This sealed packet is to be opened by the immigration official in the US Your spouse should enter the US before the expiration date mentioned on the visa.
A few things to keep in mind
Before beginning the application process for a spouse visa for the US, keep these points in mind:
a. Get your finances in order. This is important as you will be considered the financial sponsor for your spouse when they move to the US
b. You need to fill out the Affidavit of Sponsorship (form I-864), which states that you are the financial sponsor for your spouse and are in a position to provide for their needs adequately
c. Keep in mind that some activities, including drug trafficking and submitting fraudulent documents, may make your application for a spouse visa for the U.S. ineligible. Willful misinterpretation of facts or committing fraud may result in your spouse becoming permanently ineligible for a US visa
The process of your spouse joining you in the US is relatively straightforward though it might take a few months. Always file your petition through trusted sources and ensure that you submit proper documents in the required formats for hassle-free processing of your application.