Q: A permanent resident from here (U.S. green card holder for 18 years) decides to go back to his home country to get married. The girl he is marrying is well educated and holds a degree. The question is: Would it be very long before he could sponsor his wife to come to the U.S.? What are the quickest options he has being that he does not have citizenship here in the U.S?

A: The wife or husband of a United States permanent resident green card holder is subject to a long backlog before he or she can obtain a green card. The length of the backlog depends upon what country he or she is from, but will be at least several years. The husband or wife of a United States citizen is considered to be an "immediate relative," however, and can apply for a green card with no backlog. If the U.S. permanent residence spouse is eligible to naturalize and become a U.S. citizen, it may be faster to get the foreign spouse to the United States in that way. Also, in the case of a spouse who has a degree and can find a professional job in the United States, she may be able to obtain employment sponsorship for an H-1B visa in the interim while waiting for the green card.