I-130 DIRECT CONSULAR FILING FOR SPOUSE
In general, an I-130 petition filed by a U.S. citizen for their foreign spouse must first be filed with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). Once the I-130 petition has been approved by USCIS, the foreign spouse may apply for their immigrant visa at the U.S. Consulate in their country of residence abroad.
The problem with this approach is that processing time is currently in the range of 10 – 12 months. Which is a long period for a married couple to be separated, especially if they had been living together abroad.
In certain cases, the U.S. citizen may be eligible to request expedited processing through the U.S. Consulate in their home country. This is a process known as “Direct Consular Filing”. In cases where the expedite request is accepted, the I-130 will be processed directly with the U.S. Consulate from start to finish. In other words, the U.S. citizen would not file the I-130 petition with USCIS.
The Direct Consular Filing process can drastically reduce the overall processing time. In some cases, the total time required has been 2 – 4 months from start to finish, a significant time saver compared with the standard I-130 filed with USCIS.
Attempting to file the I-130 petition directly with the U.S. Consulate is a complicated process, and it is advisable to speak with an attorney if you are interested in pursuing this option for your family members.