I am interested in immigrating to the United States
How long does it take to get an immigrant visa?
immigration is a two-step process
- First, the U.S. spouse must file an I-130 petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- Second, once USCIS approves the petition, you can apply for the immigrant visa at the Consular Section in Frankfurt.
USCIS at the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt accepts I-130 petitions by mail from U.S. citizens who reside in Germany. U.S. citizens whose principal residence is not in Germany, and/or are abroad temporarily as a visitor or on business, must file the petition in the United States. The minimum processing time for an I-130 petition submitted in Frankfurt is 90 days.
After petition approval, USCIS forwards the file to the Immigrant Visa Section at the U.S. Consulate General Frankfurt. The processing time of the actual immigrant visa depends on how quickly the immigrant visa unit receives all required documents and the availability of visa interview appointments. It can take from a few weeks to several months.
Can I transmit citizenship to my spouse?
No. A United States citizen cannot transmit citizenship to a spouse. If your spouse wishes to relocate with you to the United States, s/he will require an immigrant visa. On entering the United States on an immigrant visa, your spouse will be processed for either Lawful Permanent or Conditional Resident Status.
Questions concerning naturalization should be addressed to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States.
Which is quicker to process, an immigrant or a fiancé(e) visa?
If the time factor is of importance, you should contact the USCIS office where you will file the petition to ascertain processing times before deciding on applying for a fiancé(e) or immigrant visa. A fiancé(e) visa cannot be applied for if you are already married.
My partner/common-law spouse is a U.S. citizen. Can s/he sponsor me for immigration?
Same-sex marriages that are created in Germany are not considered to be a “marriage” per se (but an “eingetragene Lebensgemeinschaft” – a form of civil union). Although an “Eingetragene Lebensgemeinschaft” provides same-sex partners in Germany many of the same rights and benefits as marriage, it does not accord a partnership of the same legal rights and benefits. In essence, the registered partnership is equivalent but not equal to a marriage under German law. It is this legal distinction under German law that is the basis for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) determination. Under U.S. law, USCIS may only provide derivative status to accompanying members of individuals receiving immigrant (and nonimmigrant) benefits when the law in the country where the union occurs provides equal (not equivalent) treatment for same-sex partnerships and marriages.
The laws regarding marriage in the United States vary from state to state, and even from county to county, but generally speaking, since the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges in June 2015, same-sex marriages are now legal in every U.S. state. As a result of this decision, the same laws and processes that apply to opposite-sex couples, apply equally to same-sex couples. Therefore, it is possible to legally marry in the United States. In addition, marriage in a foreign country that has legalized same-sex marriage may also be recognized as providing the same rights and responsibilities by the federal government and state governments. Many neighboring countries to Germany have legalized same-sex marriages.
We would also refer you to USCIS’s FAQs on same sex marriages. Additional information on same-sex marriage is available on http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/immigrate/family.html.
Once you are married in the sense of U.S. immigration law, you may file an I-130 alien relative petition in your spouse’s behalf which will allow him to apply for an immediate relative immigrant visa.
Can I apply for an immigrant visa from within the United States?
If you are in the United States, please contact USCIS for information on the process of changing status: https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/contact-us.
Can I travel to the United States while my application for an immigrant or fiancé(e) visa is being processed?
If you intend taking up permanent residence in the United States, you are required to wait until the immigrant or fiancé(e) visa is issued.
However, if you wish to make a temporary visit at the end of which you will return to your permanent residence outside the United States, you may travel on a tourist (B-2) visa, or visa free under the Visa Waiver Program, if qualified.
If applying for a B-2 visa, you will be required to furnish evidence of your residence outside the United States to which you intend to return at the end of your temporary stay. Although a pending immigrant or fiancé(e) visa application is not necessarily conclusive evidence of intent to abandon a residence, it is a factor considered by consular officers reviewing a visa application. If you are unable to convince the consular officer reviewing the application that you do not intend to abandon your overseas residence, you will not be issued a visa.
When traveling to the United States either with a visa or visa free under the Visa Waiver Program, you should be sure to carry with you for presentation to U.S. immigration evidence of your residence outside the United States. If the immigration inspector is not convinced that you are a genuine visitor for pleasure, you will be denied entry into the country.