If you are a spouse to a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, then this is the right place to be. Let’s address the fact that the marriage green card process takes quite a lot of time before the application is approved. There is also a certain list of dos and don’ts that one needs to follow to rightfully apply. Well, it is always advised to file the application with the help of a lawyer as the process will get quite tedious once someone is in. In this article, we will cover some important topics such as how to get a green card through marriage, Marriage Green Card Application Process, how to prepare for the interview process, and similar other topics.
- 1 Marriage Green Card Application Process
- 1.1 Marriage Green Card Application Process – Eligibility Criteria
- 1.2 How to Apply for a Green Card Through Marriage
- 1.2.1 Step 1: Fill the Form I-130
- 1.2.2 Step 2: Green Card Application Form
- 1.2.3 Step 3: Green Card Interview Process
- 1.3 What’s Next??
- 1.4 How to Prepare for a Marriage Green Card Interview
- 1.5 The Pros and Cons of Getting a Green Card
- 1.6 Mistakes to Avoid While Applying for a Green Card
- 1.7 How Long Does It Take to Process the Application for a Green Card?
- 1.8 Conclusion
- 2 Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ’s)
Marriage Green Card Application Process
When a foreign national has married a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident, then they become eligible to apply for a marriage green card which is also known as a permanent resident card. Through this card, the person is able to legally work and live in the United States permanently. They also have the option to neutralize as a US citizen. The foreign nationals only become eligible to apply for a Marriage Green Card if they are married to a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident. The person applying for this card must be legally married and must have valid documents to prove their marriage.
Marriage Green Card Application Process – Eligibility Criteria
Here are a few important pointers to keep in mind while you are applying for a Marriage Green Card:
- The marriage should be legal. This means that your marriage should be officially recognized by the respective country’s government as legal.
- You should be married to a U.S. citizen. The close relatives of a U.S. citizen are given priority in the Green Card process. Thus, you must prove the nationality of your spouse during the application process.
- If you are married to a US green card holder, i.e., a lawful permanent resident, then you become eligible to apply for a marriage green card.
- The marriage should be legitimate, and you should have all the valid documents that supports your claims.
- If the person has been married in the past, they must show all the valid documents such as a divorce or death certificate which clearly shows that their previous marriage has ended. They must not be married to anyone else.
How to Apply for a Green Card Through Marriage
Follow the steps given below to apply for a Marriage Green Card:
Step 1: Fill the Form I-130
This is the first step towards applying for a Marriage Green Card. Form I-130, i.e., Petition for Alien Relative is a USCIS form that establishes a relationship between the two parties. The person filing this form is called the “petitioner” or the “sponsor”. The spouse who is receiving the Green Card is called the “beneficiary” or the “green card holder”. Through this form, you are establishing the fact the beneficiary and the sponsor have a legitimate relationship and should also prove the documents to support your claims. Provide your marriage certificate, vacation photos, joint bank account, etc.
After the form is completed, you must mail it to the address mentioned on the USCIS website. Select the address that suits one’s status and mail the packet to the address. After 2-3 weeks, the sponsor will receive an acknowledgment through the mail.
At times, USCIS might ask the spouse to show additional documents which are called the Request for Evidence during the first 2-3 months of applying. After 7-15 months, the USCIS will make a final decision on whether the application is approved or otherwise.
The filing fee for Form I-130 is $535.
Step 2: Green Card Application Form
Based on where your spouse(beneficiary) is currently living, USCIS will have two different Marriage green card application processes.
Marriage Green Card Application Process for the Spouse Living in the United States
If the beneficiary is living in the United States, then they need to file the application Form I-485 which is called Adjustment of Status. The application filing fee is $1,140 along with the biometric of $85 which totals $1,225. Other documents that must be provided are:
- The beneficiary’s nationality(birth certificate and passport size photograph)
- Valid travel document Form I-94 and the US visa copies
- Medical examinations conducted by a certified doctor
- Proof that the sponsor is financially stable enough to support the beneficiary(Includes Form I-864 for Affidavit of Support)
If the sponsor is a United States citizen, then they can combine this form along with the Form I-130 and other documents mentioned in the first step and mail it to the respective address. This process is known as concurrent filing, which usually takes 8-11 months of processing.
If the sponsor is a Green Card holder, then USICS will first verify your status and then you can send the Form I-485. This process usually takes one and a half years, but depending on the beneficiary’s country, the process can take a few months. After this, the sponsor can send Form I-485 and the processing will take 8 to 11 months.
Marriage Green Card Application Process for the Spouse Living Outside the United States
The spouses who are living outside the United States go through a process called Consular Processing. This process is very different from the Adjustment of Status process. In this process, the beneficiary waits in their residential country until the Form I-130 gets approved by the USCIS. It might take a few months to approve the application. Once the application gets approved, Form I-130 is sent to the U.S. Department of States National Visa Center, NVC.
The Visa Center will send the notice either through mail or email after they have received the necessary documents and files. Based on these forms and documents, the NVC will decide if the beneficiary is approved for an interview or not. People will have to send further information and other documents in the filing packet which is sent to the NVC:
- The filing fee for the consular processing is $445. Although this fee is supposed to be paid online, you might be given other instructions based on your case
- The form for Consular Processing, DS-260 which is the Green Card application form which is supposed to be filed online
- Birth Certificate and photographs along with proof of nationality
- Police clearance certificates since the age of 16
- The US citizen spouse or the permanent resident spouse must be able to prove that they have the financial means to support you. They have to submit the Form I-864 which is called the Affidavit of Support. This form has information on your pay stubs, income, etc.
The NVC processing timeline for the spouse of a US citizen/Green card citizen takes only 1-2 months. After the NVC has processed your package, they send the package to any US embassy in the beneficiary’s country.
Step 3: Green Card Interview Process
Once the NVC has approved the definitive packet, then it’s time for the interview. The interview process is different for the spouse who is living inside or outside the United States. The interview is the last step in a marriage green card application method. This interview is conducted to ensure that your marriage to your spouse is legitimate and not a fraud in any way.
The main goal of the interviewer is to ask a set of questions related to your marriage that can analyze the legitimacy of your marriage. You might be asked questions related to your marriage history, your plans together, or your daily activities. Once the interviewer is convinced with your answers, you’ll be given the right to access your green card in no time. However, the interview procedure differs for spouses inside and outside the USA.
Spouse’s Living in the United States
The spouse(beneficiary) living in the United States should attend the green card interview with their sponsor at any USICS office that is assigned to them. After the success of the interview, the green card will arrive through the mail after 2-3 weeks of the approval.
Spouse’s Living Outside the United States
If the spouse(beneficiary) is living outside the United States, then they should attend the interview on their own. The sponsoring spouse does not have to attend this interview. The beneficiary should drop at the US Embassy to give their interview. Once the interview is a success, the beneficiary will have a visa stamp on their passport which makes them eligible to travel to the United States. The USCIS Immigrant Fee must be paid online which is $220. It is recommended to pay this fee before the beneficiary leaves for the United States.
The Green Card will be sent through mail at the given address after the beneficiary arrives at their home address in the United States.
Marriages That Are Less Than 2 Years
If the marriage is less than 2 years, the spouse will receive a Conditional Green Card which is called CR1. The validity of this card lasts for just 2 years. 90 days before the expiration of their conditional green card, the couple must file a Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, i.e., Form I-751. This form is used to appeal to remove the conditions and apply for a permanent residence. After sending this form, the USCIS will once again evaluate the status of your marriage and then you will receive your permanent residence status.
Marriages That Are More Than 2 Years
If a marriage has lasted for more than 2 years, then the beneficiary will receive an IR1 card which is an Immediate Relative green card, otherwise known as a Permanent Resident Green Card. This card is valid for 10 years and you need to apply for renewal after 10 years. During the renewal process, you do not have to specify the authenticity of your marriage.
How to Prepare for a Marriage Green Card Interview
The interview process for the marriage green card can often feel pressured even though the marriage is real. That’s because not many people prefer to reveal their private life to people other than their close family and friends. To help you cast a better impression on the interviewer, here are a few preparation tips along with some common interview questions.
You might be asked a series of questions that are useful in evaluating the authenticity of your marriage. You might be asked questions about your personal/relationship history, questions related to your wedding, the daily routines, questions related to your kids if you have any, any major celebrations such as anniversaries or birthdays, etc.
- The first and foremost tip that you must be aware of is that you need enough practice before you deliver the answer to your questions. Keep your flow smooth and it shouldn’t sound rehearsed.
- Take a look at all the paperwork, forms, applications, etc., beforehand. Catch up on the necessary bits of information filed by your sponsoring spouse
- Only present the documents that are asked by the interviewer at the time of the interview
- Spend some time outside the entire application process to discuss the important aspects of your marriage. Get to know each other well enough to be able to answer the basic questions
- Keep your dressing appropriate. Dress like as if you are giving a regular job interview
- At times, you might feel slightly off as you might be asked some personal questions about your relationship. You might also feel nervous, but remember that it is the interviewer’s job to ask questions. Do not sound hesitant as it might raise suspicion. If you do not remember the answer to the question, then just let them know.
- Do not lie to the interviewer or try to predict any answer, as it have a negative impact on your case. It might also cause you to lose the case.
- At times you might be asked very personal questions that might make you uncomfortable. If you find yourself in any such situation, then you can let the interviewer know, and they will move on to the next question.
The Pros and Cons of Getting a Green Card
A marriage green card application process gives you the status of a permanent resident alongside giving you the freedom of equal rights as a regular US citizen. Here is a list of a few advantages and disadvantages of applying for a green card.
- You will have the rights of a regular US citizen which includes the freedom of speech, religion, right to work, education, financial aid, etc.
- The person can act as a sponsor to the immediate relatives and the extended family
- You have the freedom to travel within the country and internationally.
- With a green card, the person becomes eligible to work for any employer within the United States
- Although a green card holder does hold the right to vote unless they become a citizen, they can still contribute to any party.
- A green card citizen cannot travel internationally for more than 180 days without a valid travel permit. If nay person fails to comply with the travelling rules, thy might be close to losing their status
- There are many tax responsibilities that a green card holder needs to consider
- The green card holder does not have to commit any criminal acts that can jeopardize their status in the United States
- The major drawback of applying for a green card is that the process take a lot of time. Sometimes, the green card processing can take 8-13 months
- If the green card application process is denied by the USCIS, then the person can only reopen or reconsider the case with new facts that supports their claims
Mistakes to Avoid While Applying for a Green Card
While applying for a marriage green card, you must be aware that there are many procedures and protocols to follow during this process. Any major mistake can result in your application not being considered. During the entire phase of the marriage green card application process, you must avoid the following mistakes to have smooth processing.
- Your marriage should be legal and not a sham. This means that you must not be married for green card only. You must have all the necessary documents that prove your marriage to the sponsoring spouse. Additionally, you must be married to anyone else while you are applying for a green card. Even if you did have a previous relationship, you must carry all the supporting documents that claims the end of all your previous relationships.
- If the sponsoring spouse cannot prove the fact that they can provide financial support to the beneficiary then they might lose the green card status. The sponsoring spouse need to file the Affidavit of Support which has a record of their finances and income history.
- While submitting the application form, you must make sure that all the necessary fields are completed. Failing to complete any specific fields will result in the application not getting approved. If certain parts of the application does not apply to you, then simply type/write N/A. Make sure to follow all the guidelines and input your information correctly.
How Long Does It Take to Process the Application for a Green Card?
The marriage green card application process has a separate timeline for every case. This timeline depends on the home country of the spouse. It also depends if they are living within the States or internationally, the supporting documentation provided, etc.
The most important factor is the kind of citizen your spouse is and where does the beneficiary currently lives. If the sponsoring spouse is a US citizen and the beneficiary is living in the US then the wait time is 14-28 months. If the beneficiary is living outside the US, then the wait time is 17-24 months.
For the sponsoring spouse who is a green card holder and the beneficiary is currently living in the US, then the wait time is 22-36 months. If the beneficiary is outside the US, then the processing time is 17-23 months.
The timelines mentioned here are approximate. Depending on your case, it might take longer than usual or might take lesser time.
The marriage green card application process is highly stressful as it takes a lot of time to get the processing done. All the application forms and the supporting documents must be carefully provided. Any mistakes or redundancies can either lead to a longer processing time or having your application rejected. Furthermore, you should also be well-prepared for your interview process. The interview is the final yet the most crucial part of the marriage green card process. It is advised to get help from your attorney while handling such cases.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ’s)
The ones who are married to a US citizen or a permanent resident (Green card holder) can apply for a marriage green card.
Although the approximate timeline for a marriage green card application process differs for each case, the basic timeline is 17-36 months.
The most common factors that have a significant amount of influence on the green card timeline are the home country of the beneficiary and the current residence of the beneficiary.