June 14, 2022

Petition For Spouse Mistakes You Need To Look Out For

The process of petitioning for any visa or green card is complicated and requires people to navigate a wide assortment of steps for their application to have a decent chance of receiving approval from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). When it comes to a petition for a spouse’s green card, the stakes are arguably even higher. The process is more challenging to accomplish without encountering any missteps that can get your petition rejected. 

In the article below, our team of immigration experts from Brudner Law will explore the most common mistakes you’ll need to look out for when petitioning to help a spouse immigrate to the United States using Form I-130 and I-130A. Please keep reading to learn the basics that you’ll want to understand, and also consider browsing our wide selection of other expertly written immigration resources. 

Related: What is the Fiancé Visa (K1 Visa)?

Failure to Document Previous Marriage Annulment or Divorce

When submitting a petition for a spousal visa, the husband or wife must also submit all proper documentation and certificates that any prior marriages to other parties have been annulled or that divorces were finalized before the new union between the couple in question began. The current marriage between the petitioning couple must be valid. However, documentation of annulment or divorce is not required if either party has never been married before or the previous spouse died. In the latter case, only a death certificate is required. 

Not Providing Or Giving Wrong Information

When filing a petition for a spouse’s green card, it’s vital to ensure that you provide USCIS with accurate and complete information. Any inaccuracies, discrepancies, and omissions can often lead to severe issues, ranging from lengthy delays in application processing to outright petition rejection. It’s also essential that people don’t try to misrepresent anything during the green card process, as that can easily lead to one’s spouse being denied a green card. However, there are some cases where incomplete information is acceptable. For example, you can provide an educated guess for the date you started a job if you don’t remember your exact start date.

Giving The Wrong Address

This particular point essentially goes hand in hand with providing inaccurate information. Still, we wanted to take a moment to note that giving the wrong address on your applications can lead to many complications, ranging from significant delays to outright rejection of your petition.

Failure To Pay All Necessary Fees

A couple speaking with an immigration attorney.

Submitting a petition for a spouse’s green card comes with a filing fee of $535, according to USCIS. Once you’re ready to apply and have all of the required supporting documentation for the process, ensure you send the correct amount to pay the fee with either a personal check, money order, or cashier’s check. 

Related: I Just Got Married – How do I get a Green Card for My Spouse?

Not Enough Proof of A Bona Fide Marriage

When you file a petition for a spouse’s green card, USCIS will require married couples to submit a range of supporting documents to help ensure that they are bound together in a legally valid, bona fide marriage. In short, the couple will need to prove that their marriage is real and wasn’t made to get a green card or to circumvent any U.S. immigration laws. Submitting a marriage certificate will not provide enough proof for USCIS. Spouses will also need other documents that prove they live together, share finances, or have children together. 

Married couples can also submit other evidence during the application process to demonstrate the legitimacy of their marriage, including photos, social media relationship statuses, and different types of correspondences. 

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Spousal Green Card Petitions

Now that we’ve covered the top mistakes that everyone should look out for when petitioning the government for a spouse’s green card, let’s explore some of the most common questions that people typically have regarding the process.

What Happens if You Make a Mistake on Your Citizenship Application?

Say that you’ve submitted your spouse’s petition, but realize that you’ve made a mistake on one or more of your forms. If this occurs, you’ll want to take several steps to resolve the issue and help avoid lengthy delays or rejection of your application. First, you’ll need to call the USCIS contact center and send a letter to the USCIS office in charge of processing those forms to explain the mistake and how it should be fixed. You’ll also need to send in a new signed form.

How Long Does It Take To Fix Your Spouse's Papers?

If you notice a mistake in your spouse’s application papers after filing your petition, call the USCIS contact center to inform them and send a letter to the appropriate USCIS office explaining what’s wrong and how to fix it. While it’s not difficult for issues in the paperwork to be corrected, it can significantly delay the application review process and push back petition approval. The delay can be as short as a few months, though it may be longer in cases where multiple mistakes occur in the documentation. 

Related: How to Petition for Parents to Come to the United States

How Long Does a Petition For a Spouse Take?

The amount of time it takes for a spouse’s petition to be accepted after submission varies on a case-by-case basis. However, it typically takes eight months to a year. In some cases, the time it takes to receive approval for a spouse petition is longer than a year. This typically happens if there are issues related to missing or incorrect information included in the application or if USCIS has trouble determining the validity of the marriage in question.

How Much Income Do You Need To Sponsor a Spouse?

For an average U.S. civilian to be eligible to act as a sponsor for their spouse and petition for a spouse’s green card, they must have an income of at least 125% of the federal poverty guideline in the 48 contiguous states, D.C., and any U.S. territories. As of 2022, the minimum annual income required is $22,887 for a two-person household- meaning the citizen is only sponsoring their spouse, creating a household of two people. However, spouses belonging to the military can act as sponsors for their spouse’s green card applications as long as they make a minimum of 100% of the federal poverty guideline.

What Happens If You Lie To Immigration?

At a minimum, lying to immigration when petitioning for a spouse’s green card will result in the application being rejected. In more severe cases, lying to immigration can lead to several other extreme consequences, including permanent inadmissibility for a green card or visa, deportation, and not being allowed to apply for U.S. citizenship in the future. 

Additionally, suppose USCIS determines that an individual has participated in a sham or fraud marriage to obtain a green card or to evade any provisions of U.S. immigration laws. In that case, the couple in question may be charged with a felony. The penalty for this can include imprisonment for up to five years, a fine of $250,000, or both.

Concluding Thoughts to Consider

It’s always essential to ensure that you’re providing all of the correct documentation and information when petitioning for a visa or green card, especially if it’s for the sake of your spouse. Making mistakes in this application process can significantly hinder your partner’s chances of gaining lawful permanent residency within the U.S. or lengthen the time it takes to get approval. To avoid any of the above missteps, consider working with an expert immigration attorney from Brudner Law, and contact us today to learn about our services. 

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