How Long Does It Take To Get A Green Card After Marriage?

The Timeline Required To Get A Marriage-based Green Card

There are thousands of couples getting married every year. Among those that do are foreign spouses that marry American citizens and need to start their journey towards U.S. citizenship. The foreign spouse becomes eligible for a marriage-based green card.

There’s no specific timeline available. Every situation and every marriage is unique. Different factors influence the timeline, including:

  • the evidence submitted
  • whether you’re married to a green card holder or a U.S. citizen
  • where you currently live
  • the current location of the American spouse

The entire wait time for a marriage-based green card lasts between 9-36 months.

The USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) offered four types of green cards, and the marriage-based green card is one of them.

The American spouse starts the process by submitting a petition for the foreign spouse. A petition for an immigrant visa is presented first, followed by one for a green card.

Before the visa and green card are issued, an in-depth verification process is done by the USCIS. How quickly the visa is processed depends on how quickly the agency verifies the documentation.

One of the best things about the marriage-based green card is that there’s no limit to how many visas are issued per year, which means not having to wait for a quota. Nonetheless, you’ll still have to wait at least ten months for the entire process to be completed.

Marriage-based Green Card for Those Married to A U.S. Citizen

If you’re a foreigner and get married to a U.S. citizen by birth or via neutralization, then the visa process might take 10-17 months. It takes a much shorter time if they’re living in the United States.

Marriage-based Green Card for Those Married to A U.S. Green Card Holder

For someone married to a U.S. green card holder, it takes much longer. If your spouse has a permanent residence in the United States as a green card holder, the approximate wait time is 29-38 months. If they don’t live in the U.S. due to personal or professional reasons, the approximate time frame is 23-32 months.

Marriage-based Green Card Process

This section explains how the process is from beginning to end to understand better what happens within the said timelines. A green card can be applied for in two scenarios, either through consular processing or via a concurrent filing with the USCIS.

1. Consular processing

If you’re a United States citizen married to a foreigner who lives abroad, you must undergo consular processing. The following are the steps one should expect.

  • Petition for Alien Relative (File Form I-130)

The first required step is filing a petition with the USCIS to bring in an alien to America. Your spouse will be categorized as an “immediate relative.”

Form I-130 establishes the validity of a marriage to avoid fraudulent marriages. A citizen or the green card holder can sign the form as the sponsor, and the foreign spouse is termed the beneficiary. It takes approximately 7-10 months for the USCIS to confirm all the details in the documents.

  • Green Card Application

Officials at the National Visa Center get the form once the USCIS approves it, and they gather relevant documents to issue the green card. The process can take a minimum of 3-5 months. Afterward, the necessary paperwork is then forwarded to the relevant consulate or embassy.

  • Interview and Approval

The foreign spouse visits the relevant consulate to attend a green card interview. Some things need to be done before attending the interview, and they shall be specified. The approval takes 1-2 months, and the foreign spouse can come into the U.S.

2. Concurrent filing with the USCIS

The process is much easier if the nonimmigrant spouse lives in the U.S. on a K-1 visa. There’s no need to seek immigrant entry to the country, and only the legitimacy of the marriage needs to be established.

It involves two steps. The first is to file Form I-485, an application to register permanent residence or adjust status, and it only takes one month. The second one is the interview and approval, which takes approximately 10-13 months to issue the green card.

Conclusion

Getting a green card is not a quick process. At first, the entire process may seem intimidating, but everything will go smoothly with proper planning and a little patience. However, it is essential to gain as much information as possible before getting started, using reliable online resources, or talking to an immigration attorney.

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