Last time I blogged about our current visa efforts, I described it as "very stop-and-start." We're now past that phase and, since late November, we've just been waiting. Everything's been submitted and there's nothing we can do until we hear from USCIS, which probably won't happen for another two months.
I didn't really mention this in the post from last October, but Jon and I have actually submitted applications for two different visas to bring him over to America as my husband. Here's how it works:
The visa required to bring an alien spouse into the United States is called the I-130. In theory, processing time for this visa takes about 5 months; that's why we hoped that Jon would be over here in late March since we filed that application in late October. However, we didn't realize that the five-month timeframe only leads to initial approval; after that, you have to schedule interviews and medical appointments and things like that, which can take another few months to sort out. All in all, you're probably looking at about a year before the I-130 visa is actually granted.
Unfortunately, the "in theory" up there is supremely optimistic. It had been taking more than 12 months for I-130 applications to be processed and, though they've now reduced that to 8 months, the processing time is far longer than it should be. (This NYTimes article explores why the wait is so long for US citizens who apply for visas on behalf of their alien spouses. It's distressing on many levels!) The goal is for initial approval to take 5 months, but according to USCIS that won't apply to applications submitted before May 2014.
That's why we also submitted an I-129F petition in late November. It's basically an offshoot of the K1 fiancé visa; you can apply if you're already married, in which case you get a K3 visa, but the alien only gets the legal rights of a fiancé rather than a spouse after arriving in the United States until all the paperwork is adjusted. Frustratingly, that means that the alien spouse can't work immediately upon arrival in the United States. The other annoying thing about the I-129F is that you can't submit the application until you've submitted the I-130 and received a receipt of confirmation from USCIS which you then have to include in your I-129F application packet - that's why it took us a month after filing the I-130 to file the I-129F. On the bright side, though, processing for the I-129F really does take five months and, once it's granted, the subsequent steps should only take another four to six weeks.
(And yes, Jon loves it when I refer to him as an alien. Obviously.)
So there we are. We're waiting - and waiting and waiting - for any news, but it's most likely that the first thing we'll hear is that Jon's K3 petition has been approved. We probably won't hear that for another two months, at which point we'll get a notification that we can move forward with the final pieces of the process. Based on what we know about it all now, we hope for Jon to be here sometime in June, just over two years after I repatriated to the United States from London. It will have been quite a journey - but it will all have been worth it!
Here are a few past posts on other visas you might be interested in applying for if you hope to move to the UK: student visa, Tier 1 work visa, marriage visa, and an overview of UK visa options. Also, Gillian wrote a guest post for Betsy Transatlantically last April about her journey through the I-130 visa, which took them exactly one year. The comments left by readers going through similar processes are supremely helpful, but do note that some of the information/advice provided may no longer be valid due to changes in the laws! And, as usual, I highly recommend you talk to an immigration lawyer if you have specific concerns. (I can give you names and contact information for firms in both London and DC, if you want.) In the meantime, I'm more than happy to answer anything informally and I'm sure some questions will get answered by other readers, too, if you leave them in the comments below. The more help we can be for each other the better!
Speaking of help, I'd be really grateful if you shared some of your thoughts on blogging with me here! The responses I'm collecting are fantastic and I can't wait to publish them next Monday.