The Immigrant Visa Process for Spouses and Children of U.S. Citizens Residing in France

Under U.S. immigration law, U.S. citizens may petition for the immigration to the United States of their spouses and children – if the U.S. citizen and the family member(s) intend to establish residence in the United States.  In general, children are defined as unmarried sons or daughters under the age of 21, including stepchildren when the marriage took place before the child’s 18th birthday, and adopted children when the adoption took place before the child’s 16th birthday.  For specific questions about an adopted child’s eligibility to immigrate, please contact ParisIVPending@state.gov.

For U.S. citizens residing in France interested in obtaining permanent resident (green card) status for a foreign spouse and/or child, the process begins with filing an I-130 petition. All U.S. citizens residing in France must follow these three steps:

Step 1: File the I-130 Petition through the USCIS Chicago Lockbox  

Adjudication of I-130 Immigrant Visa Petitions is under the sole jurisdiction of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and not the Consular Section in U.S. Embassy Paris. In accordance with USCIS policy, all I-130 petitions filed by U.S. citizens residing in France on behalf of an immediate relative must be filed through the Chicago Lockbox.

Step 2: Follow the Instructions from the National Visa Center (NVC) 

If USCIS approves the I-130 petition, your case is forwarded to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) for processing. NVC will contact you and your beneficiary (spouse and /or child) with detailed instructions on submitting additional forms, supporting documentation and fee payments.  NVC will also send you instructions on how to access your case online through the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) using your case number and invoice ID.  Additional information on NVC processing is available through the NVC website.

Step 3:  Prepare for the Visa Interview at the U.S. Embassy in Paris  

Once the file is complete, NVC will notify you to schedule your spouse’s and/or child’s visa interview at U.S. Embassy Paris. Please consult the Paris IV Interview Instructions to prepare for the interview.

Please note that Consular Sections do not have authority to accept and approve I-130 petitions.  On a case-by-case basis under certain exceptional circumstances, USCIS may delegate authority to the Embassy Paris Consular Section to accept and approve an I-130 petition. This approval is known as “direct filing.” Potentially qualifying exceptional circumstances involve military deployments, medical emergencies, threats to personal safety, time sensitive child and adoptions cases, or short notice job relocations.

If you are a U.S. citizen residing in France and you believe you qualify for exceptional circumstances according to USCIS guidelines, please write to ParisIVPending@state.gov and include an explanation along with scanned documentary evidence demonstrating the need for direct filing, such as employment letters, military orders, or medical records. Please also include copies of your U.S. passport, your spouse’s and/or child’s passport(s), the marriage certificate (Copie Intégrale de l’Acte de Mariage if married in France), birth certificate, and/or adoption decree as appropriate.  The Paris Consular Section will then forward your request to the appropriate USCIS Office, which will determine if direct filing is warranted.  If direct filing authority is granted, the Paris Consular Section will contact you with the next steps in the immigrant visa process. If USCIS does not approve the direct filing, you will be instructed to begin at Step 1 above.