How much Time does it Take to Process Your Marriage Green Card?
US government provides green cards to those US citizens and permanent residents who wish to sponsor their family members to join them in the United States. A marriage-based green card is one of the types of green card that allows the US Citizen and Permanent resident spouse to sponsor their spouse to the United States.
You cannot just simply apply and obtain the green card; it takes time to get the approval of the green card. In this article, you will get the complete details of the time taken by the USCIS for each step to process the green card application.
Moreover permanent resident status (Green card) is the way Apply for US Citizenship by Naturalization
How much time does it take to obtain the Marriage Green Card if you are married to a U.S. Citizen?
The time is taken to obtain the marriage green card for the foreign spouse of the US citizen based on where the foreign spouse is living; in the United States or in any other foreign country. Mentioned below is the summary of the time taken by USCIS to provide the green card if you are a married US citizen.
The estimated time taken by USCIS to provide the US green card to the immigrant spouse living in the United States is 10 to 13 months.
In case you are married to a person who holds U.S. Citizenship and you’re currently within the United States, to apply for the marriage-based green card, you can submit the adjustment of status application. To obtain the green card through adjustment of a status application takes up to 10 to 13 months. In order to obtain the marriage-based green card through adjustment of status, there are two steps involved:
The first step is that you are required to submit the marriage green card application, and in the next step, you have to attend the interview and wait for the approval. Below are the processes of filing green card applications along with the time taken by USCS the process each step.
- Petition and marriage green card application
Before you start the marriage green card application process, you will have to develop a marriage relationship with a US citizen with your spouse. In order to develop a relationship with the US citizen, your US citizen spouse will require submitting the application form I-130, also known as a “petition for alien relative”.
For foreign spouses who are filing the marriage green card application through adjustment of status, they need to file the application form I-485, also called “Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.” While submitting the forms to USCIS, you need to submit both the form I-130 and I-485 at the same time.
Also, you must submit the filing fees and relevant supporting documents (like marriage certificate and birth certificate) along with the form in the right format as requested by USCIS. The estimated time taken by USCIS to process these forms (Form I-130 and Form I-485) is 9-11 months.
In order to help their foreign spouse obtain the marriage-based green card, the US citizen spouse required to file the form I-864, an affidavit of support.
The foreign spouse looking to obtain the marriage green card required to give the medical examination. They need to pass the medical exam and get form I-693 signed by the attending doctor. They need the get the form signed prior to 60 days prior to their application submission.
Or, the immigrant spouse can give the medical exam after filling the forms I-130 and I-485 and carry the form I-693 along with them at the time of the Marriage Green Card interview.
- Biometrics appointment
At the time of your green card application process, USCIS will send you plenty of notices. All the notice is the way through which USCIS gives you the update of your application. There may also be the notice of biometrics appointment which you will obtain within 2-3 weeks once you have filed your application.
Marriage Green Card interview and approval
- Marriage Green Card interview
After USCIS processes your application, applicant will get an appointment notice from USCIS to attend the green card interview. For those applicants who have applied for the green card through adjustment of status, in such a case, both foreign spouse and sponsoring spouse need to attend the interview. You will get a notice for attending the green card interview 7 to 15 months after you have submitted your application to USCIS.
- Receive your Marriage Green Card
If your interview goes well, the interviewing officer will approve your green card immediately at the interview. After USCIS approved your green card, you can expect your green card to be delivered 2 to 3 weeks after approval.
- Foreign spouse living outside the United States
If you are married to a person who holds US citizenship and you are applying for the marriage based green card from outside the United States, your application process will take up to 11-17 months. The steps of obtaining the marriage based green card and time taken by USCIS to process the application for the foreign spouse living outside the United States is categorized into four steps.
The very first thing while applying for a marriage-based card is you are required to develop a marriage relationship with your spouse by filing Form I-130, known as the “Petition for Alien relative.” This application form needs to be filed by a US citizen spouse for his/her spouse living outside the United States. This form needs to be submitted along with your supporting documents and application package to the USCIS mailing address. This part of the application process takes up to 7 to 10 months. Throughout your process of the green card application, you will obtain plenty of notice from the USCIS to update you regarding your application.
Marriage Green Card Application
After approval of your application, USCIS forwards your case to the National Visa Centre (NVC). Officers at the National Visa Centre check your information properly and then schedule an interview process for the foreign spouse to the local U.S. embassy or a consulate in their home country. This process of green card application will take up to 3 to 5 months after the documents are ready and then sent to the US consulate or embassy in the home country of a spouse. NVC assigns the unique number to your case.
Once the national Visa Centre provides the case number, they inform the foreign spouse through mail to submit the application form DS-261 “Online Choice of Address and Agent”. The state department will take up to 2 to 3 weeks to process your application.
Once applicants have filed the application form DS-261, they are granted to file the DS-260 called immigration visa application in NVC consular electronic application center. It is the actual application for the marriage green card.
Once an applicant submits the DS-260 forms, NVC provides them a notice informing them that they have accepted their application. NVC sends the notice through mail, usually on the same day when the applicants file DS-260 online. Additionally, foreign spouse must submit the required supporting documents to the National Visa Centre.
- Medical examination
Before going for the interview, the applicant will require to undergo the medical exam by the State Department approved Doctor.
Interview and approval
- Marriage Green Card interview
Now the final step before getting the green card is attending green card interview. The foreign spouse applying for the green card from outside the United States is required to attend an interview at the local US embassy or consulate in their home country. The embassy conducting the interview will update you with the time, date and location through the mail after they received your application packet. The person who is sponsoring the green card does not require attending the interview.
- Receive your green card
During your green card interview, the officer taking your interview will decide if you are eligible to obtain the immigrant visa or not. The decision regarding approving or denying your green card has been made within a week only if the US embassy doesn’t need any additional information from the applicant. Once you are granted the immigrant visa, the consulate officer will send you the packet of information, also known as the visa package. You are not allowed to open this packet, as this packet needs to be opened by the customs and border patrol agent during passing through customs.
After getting all these things done, you get the green card and you are liable to enter the United States as a permanent resident status.
How long does it take to get a marriage Green Card if you are married to a U.S. Green Cardholder?
Here in this section will get to know about the processing time on marriage green card application if you get married to the US green card holder:
- An immigrant spouse living in the U.S.
If the foreign spouse is residing within the United States and married to a green card holder, then the estimated time taken to process your marriage green card application is 29 to 38 months.
- Establishing marriage
The very first step involved in the marriage green card is that you will require filing the application form I-130, petition for alien relative. This form is to develop a marriage relationship with your spouse. The application fee of this form is $535. After filing the fees and completing the application form, you must mail the form to the relevant USCIS mailing address. After that, USCIS will provide you with the official receipt notice within two weeks after submitting the application. This whole process takes up to 11 to 15 months.
Though the immigrant spouse is within the United States, after approving the form I-130, the applicant had to file form I-485, applying for status adjustment. Note: You are not granted to file the application form until USCIS approves your application form I-130.
Waiting for a priority date and applying for a Marriage Green Card
When you are waiting for the USCIS to approve your form I-130, you must also maintain lawful status in the United States. After State Department approves your form, they will tell you when you can apply for the green card application. You can only proceed to the filling below mentioned USCIS application form once you’re I-130 petitions gets approved.
- Form I-485 (called as Application for adjustment of Status)
- Form I-864 (called as Financial Support form)
- Form I-944 (known as Declaration of self-sufficiency)
If the immigrant spouse is willing to work and wants to go for the abroad trip while their green card application is under process by USCIS, they will require filing the following form with the green card application.
- Form I-765 (Work Permit application form)
- Form I-131 (Travel permit application form)
An immigrant spouse applying for the marriage-based green card must undergo the medical examination and obtain the application form I-693 signed by the appointed Doctor. This form needs to be submitted 60 days prior to the application submission.
Or, you can also go for the medical examination after you have to file your green card application and bring the signed application form I-693 during the interview.
Green Card interview and approval
After that, you will require to attend the green card interview for the approval of your application. This is the final step of the marriage-based green card process. You can learn more about a marriage-based green card in our complete guide for a marriage-based green card.
The complete processing time taken by the USCIS to process the immigrant spouse’s green card application is 29 to 38 months.
The 29 to 38 months is categorized among the processes. The first 11 to 15 months taken by the USCIS to process the application form I-130, 8 to 10 months is required for the waiting period.
Then, it takes 9 to 11 months for USCIS to process the application form I-485, apply for adjustment of status, and then it will take 1 to 2 months to schedule the green card interview. You can get further details about the marriage based green card in our marriage Based green card guide, where you can get everything from eligibility criteria to the application process.
If the immigrant spouse is living outside of the U.S.
If you live outside the United States and are married to the US green cardholder, your marriage-based green card process will take up to 23 to 32 months.
To understand the processing time taken by the USCIS to process your green card application, you will have to start with the very first step, which includes filing the form I-130, petition for alien relative. This form is to establish your marriage relationship. This needs to be filed by the US citizen spouse only for the immigrant spouse living outside the United States.
You are required to submit this application form along with the required supporting documents to the relevant USCIS mailing address. This process of green card application will take up to 7-10 months. After you file the form, USCIS will regularly send you various notices that inform you about your application’s update.
Waiting for a priority date and applying for a Marriage Green Card
Once your petition is approved, USCIS will forward your case to the National Visa Center. The National Visa Centre will provide you the unique number for your case. Though there are annual caps to number of green card available, you cannot file the green card application unless State Department confirms that a green card is now available. This means that you will have to wait for additional 8 to 9 months after your I-130 form gets approved.
Once, State Department determines that a marriage green card is available to apply, then the national Visa Centre will accept your marriage green card petition and grant you to submit the green card application, and then they schedule the green card interview for the foreign spouse.
Once the national Visa Centre gives the permission to apply for the green card application, the next step is to submit the online DS-261, online choice of address and agent form. It takes up to 2 to 3 weeks for State Department to process this form DS-261.
When you have filed the form DS-261, you can file the Form DS-260 immigrant visa application by visiting the NVC consular electronic application Centre.
Once you have submitted your Form DS-260, the national Visa Centre, they will provide you the notice (via mail or email) informing you that they have received your form. This notice will be sent to you by the national visa Centre on the same day when you file the form. You will also be required to submit the requested supporting documents to the national visa Centre, which is part of your application. This process of marriage-based card application will take up to 2 to 3 months to get approved.
After your form DS-260 gets approved by the National Visa Centre, and then they will transfer your case and documentation to the local US embassy or consulate in your country. In not later than 1-2 months, the US embassy or consulate will ask you to get prepared for the in-person interview, which will again take 1-2 months?
Before you go for the green card interview, ensure to go for the medical exam by the State Department-appointed doctor.
Interview and approval
Marriage Green Card Interview
Now the final step for your marriage-based green card process is green card interview. The foreign spouse applying for the green card from outside the United States needs to attend the interview to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. The US embassy or consulate conducting your interview will update you with the date, time and location of the interview through mail once they get your application packet. The US citizen spouse sponsoring your green card is not allowed to attend this interview.
Receive your Marriage Green Card
The officer at the US embassy taking your interview will decide if you are eligible to obtain the immigrant visa or not. The officer will either make the decision immediately after the interview or take a week time to make the decision, only if they do not require any further information.
After you get authorized to obtain the immigrant visa, the officer will provide you the Visa packet. The applicant or not allowed to open the Visa packet, as it is required to be open only by the customs and border patrol agent while passing through the custom.
After this entire thing, you will be able to enter the United States as a permanent resident.
Are applicants allowed to work while USCIS is approving their Marriage based Green Card?
Yes, by applying for the work permits and if it gets approved you can start working in the US while USCIS approves your green card application. But if you are applying for the marriage-based green card from outside the United States, you can not apply for the work permit.
If the immigrant spouse is living inside of the U.S.
If you reside in the United States while your green card application is pending, you can work in the United States if you hold a work visa like H1-B or L1 visa. If you do not have any such work visas, you can request the work permit, also known as an employment authorization document (EAD), to start working in the United States.
In case you are married to the United States citizen, then you can request the work permit at the time of filing the green card application.
If you are married to the green cardholder, you will need to wait until you get eligible to apply for the marriage green card application before requesting the work permit.
Spouses living outside the United States are not granted to apply for the work permit. Only those spouses are allowed to apply for the work permit along with the green card application who is applying for the green card from within the United States.
For further information regarding the work permit or employment authorization document, you can check a detailed guide on how to apply for the work permit.
What to do if my green card process is taking a longer time?
In some of the circumstances, your green card application might take a longer time. There is no fixed time under which your application will get processed, and you will receive the green card. Some of the cases are under approval for years.
In case your green card application is taking longer than usual to get processed, and you have filed the green card application from within the United States, then it’s better to connect with the USCIS service center to get details about your current case status.
On the other hand, if you are applying for the green card from outside the United States and your application is taking longer than usual, it’s better to contact the embassy or consulate office near you to check the current status of your application.
We hope the above given information about the time taken by USCIS to process the marriage green card application was helpful.
For further details about the immigrant visa you can also refer to our guide for Immigrant Visa USCIS Process.