The coronavirus pandemic has created endless challenges for immigrants wishing to apply to the U.S. for a spousal visa. A spousal visa is granted when the petitioner is a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, and the spouse is a foreign citizen. Spousal visas can only be applied by the petitioner (citizen or resident of the United States) and not by the spouse directly. The Department of State announced the resumption of visa providers from July 14, 2020; there has been a remarkable lag in the U.S. visa process times worldwide. This could be due to the pile-up of cases from 2020.
With the phased resumption, U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide have opened up and are now processing biometrics and visa interviews. Initially, only those with emergency cases and extreme conditions were granted visas to travel to the U.S. The expedited process was in play, but due to extenuating circumstances, it had to be pushed forward as well.
Unfortunately, the U.S. consulate or embassies cannot provide a fixed schedule or timeline for visa approval, and almost all cases have to follow the guidelines given by the Embassy. Scheduling of visas and following protocol can be tricky when the rules change due to the severity of the pandemic. A US immigration lawyer service will guide you and prepare the necessary documentation for spousal visas and keep you updated with any recent developments.
Why Is There A Delay In Spousal Visas?
Usually (non-pandemic situations), the petitioner or U.S. citizen files a spousal visa with the National Visa Centre (NVC). Once the partner is certified, the NVC forwards the case to the Embassy or Consulate closest to the foreign spouse. The Embassy follows up on the documentation, supporting evidence, and proofs required about the marriage of the U.S. citizen and the foreign spouse. The Embassy or Consulate also schedules appointments for biometrics and visa interviews.
A spousal visa is rarely rejected, but it does happen if there is a case of fraud or lies. Many people opt for falsifying documents or certificates to gain unlawful entry into the United States. If there is the slightest doubt or hesitation by the immigration officer, he/ she may ask for more evidence supporting the claim that the petitioner and partner are legally wed in a court of law.
While conducting further investigation, the officer may also ask for proof of time spent together, travel history, photographic evidence of a relationship, wedding photos, marriage certificate, references, and other documents to prove that the relationship is not fake.
Conducting a thorough investigation takes time. During the interview, the partner is thoroughly questioned about the relationships (including when they first met the U.S. citizen, common friends, habits of the spouse, and so on).
Suppose the foreign spouse can show all the necessary documentation, without any doubt arising in the mind of the visa officer. In that case, he/she is granted a spousal visa and allowed to travel to the United States and apply for an Adjustment of Status.
Let us look at how you can expedite a U.S. spousal visa.
The Embassy or Consulate will require all documentation and evidence proving that the petitioner and foreigner are legally married. All the legal documents pertaining to the union must be produced before the visa officer. These documents need to be legal tender and notarized.
For evidence, partners may provide the legal marriage certificates, pictures and videos of the wedding ceremony, emails exchanged, texts, holidays, adventures, and any family gatherings. If any relationship markers can add to the evidence, the couple may submit those as supporting documents too.
Documentation greatly matters when submitting an application for a spousal visa. Legal documentation, financial investments, housing loans, and any shared bank accounts must be submitted for perusal. The foreign spouse can also show any family property or documentation that supports that he/ she is a part of the legal entity of the spouse in the United States. All educational documents and transcripts, previous work experience, English language proficiency tests, and other documents must be filed for expediency. Any matters of urgency, safety, extenuating circumstances, legal proceedings, and so on need to be submitted for an expedited spousal visa.
Most cases are reviewed on a first-come-first-served basis, and the final verdict rests with the visa officer. Applicants who do not qualify for an expedited case (emergency/ war/ extenuating or unsafe environment) may get a generic email informing them that the case will not be expedited.