Can I Get My New Spouse a U Visa After Receiving a U Visa?

The spouse of a U visa applicant may, even if the marriage occurred after U visa approval, be able to apply for a green card with the U visa holder.

By , Attorney Case Western Reserve University School of Law
Updated 9/07/2022

Question

My U visa was approved a year ago, and I just got married a month ago, to someone who is in the U.S. without papers. Can my spouse get a U visa, too? He needs to fix his immigration status.

Answer

The spouse of a U visa holder can't get a U visa in the traditional way for family members, as a derivative (who obtains benefits through the primary applicant). All is not lost, however, so keep reading.

Getting a U Visa For Your Spouse

In order for your spouse to have gotten a U visa with you, as a derivative, you would both have had to have been married to each other at the time that you applied for the U visa. According to the facts you've set forward, you got married after you applied for your U visa, such that your spouse does not qualify as your derivative.

Adjusting Your Status After Receiving a U Visa

Here is the better news: If and when you apply for lawful permanent residence (a green card), your husband also has a chance to apply.

After three years in the United States in U nonimmigrant status, you as a U visa holder can apply to adjust status—that is, to become a lawful permanent resident and get a green card. As of late 2021 the processing time for this adjustment of status was between 17 and 30 months, so expect to wait even longer after applying.

Also, not everyone who has a U visa is automatically eligible to adjust status; there are several requirements, as explained in Will a U Visa Ever Lead to a Green Card?.

How to Get an Adjustment of Status For Your Spouse

Once you apply for your own adjustment of status (using USCIS Form I-485, as explained in Applying for a Green Card From U Status) you can look to applying for your spouse.

Your spouse will be eligible to seek legal status via Form I-929, "Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant" so long as you have filed to adjust status to lawful permanent resident, and they meet certain requirements:

  1. Your spouse or qualifying family member has never held U nonimmigrant status before;
  2. Your relationship existed at the time of your adjustment status and continues to exist through your adjustment process (for example, you cannot marry someone after applying for adjustment of status);You or your qualifying family member would suffer extreme hardship if they are not allowed to remain or enter the United States.

If your spouse meets all the qualifications, you can file Form I-929 for your spouse, along with supporting evidence and the filing fee ($230 as of late 2021) or fee waiver application. The other required evidence varies, but in a marriage-based case it will include a copy of your marriage certificate, a signed statement by you explaining why USCIS should act favorably in applying its discretion to your husband's case, and any other evidence you can provide to establish that either you or your husband would suffer extreme hardship if he were not allowed to remain in the United States.

The Form I-929 for your husband cannot be approved until after your own adjustment application is approved. Nor does an approved Form I-929 automatically give your husband lawful permanent residence. Instead, it grants your husband legal status to seek adjustment of status. After you receive the approval of the Form I-929, he will need to submit the approval notice along with his application to adjust status.

(If your spouse were living abroad, he would need to apply through a different process and using a different set of forms; this process is known as "consular processing.")

U-visa based adjustment applicants are not subject to the same admissibility requirements that most other adjustment applicants are—so, when your husband files his application for adjustment of status, the common grounds of inadmissibility will not apply, except at USCIS's discretion. This includes the very common situation of an applicant who entered without inspection and has accrued unlawful status.

Speak to an Experienced Immigration Lawyer

Nonetheless, it is a good idea to consult an immigration attorney about your husband's case, because USCIS can exercise discretion to deny cases like this, and a denial of either the Form I-929 or the adjustment application often leads to the applicant being placed into removal proceedings (commonly called "deportation").

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