Marriage based green card

Being married to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident of the U.S. means you’re qualified for a marriage-based green card.

You can avail of all the immigration benefits (even if you’ve overstayed a visa or maintained an unlawful presence in the U.S.) offered to a spouse provided you’ve proof of valid marriage.

The rules and regulations pertaining to marriage and green cards are complex and comprehensive and widely rely on the intricacies related to the status of your partner.

On this page, you’ll be guided through the process of obtaining a marriage-based green card including application fees, attorney fees, and miscellaneous processes involved.



Married to a U.S. Citizen

If the marriage takes place between you and a U.S. citizen, it’ll be classified as an “immediate relative” and you’ll be exempted from quota restrictions when applying for a marriage-based green card. The process humbly begins with the U.S. citizen submitting an I-130 on behalf of their spouse.

If the spouse entered the U.S. legally, they can file the I-485 adjustment of status to remain in the country. Within a period of 90 days, the spouse is usually issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and may even be approved to travel overseas.

If the marriage is less than 2 years old, a 2-year time limit will be imposed on the green card. To receive a 10-year green card, the couple is supposed to file Form I-751 within 90 days before the initial green card expires. The process can be quite complex and may involve attorney fees and other miscellaneous fees.

Married to a Permanent Resident

Do note that green card applications based on marriages to U.S. permanent residents are quite frequently seen than those based on marriages to U.S. citizens. This often leads to a high demand for marriage-based green cards. Due to the risks involved in obtaining a green card through marriage,’s immigration attorneys carefully review each case to ensure a successful outcome.

One crucial part involved in the process, which we can assist with, is gathering and preparing the application and its supporting documents. Generally, a marriage is considered valid for immigration purposes if it’s recognized by the state law where it occurred.

However, even if a marriage is legally valid, it may still be disregarded if it’s found to be a bogus marriage entered into just to enjoy immigration benefits, having no intention to live together as a married couple.

It’s worth noting that acquiring a green card through marriage for a non-U.S. citizen is quite simple but the approval isn’t automatic. Remember that immigration officials scan through the applications to get legal validation of your marriage and that the marriage is legitimate and bona fide and not for the sake of reaping the benefits of immigration. In case, the citizen and foreign spouse have been married for two years at the time the spouse gains the status of a permanent resident, a conditional two-year green card will be issued.

Marriage-Based Green Card Process

To obtain a marriage-based green card, the first step is for the spouse who’s a citizen or permanent resident to file an I-130, Petition for Alien Relative with the USCIS.

Once the I-130 is approved, the further steps will rely on whether the beneficiary is living in the U.S. or abroad. If the beneficiary lives in the U.S., they will need to file an I-485, Petition to Adjust Status with the USCIS and provide supporting evidence, including birth certificate, proof of nationality, and lawful entry to the U.S. (I-94 travel record).

If the petitioner is a U.S. citizen and the beneficiary is present in the U.S., both the I-130 and I-485 can be filed at the same time. Once the initial paperwork is filed, the green card interview is mostly scheduled for about 3-4 months later.

If the Beneficiary is Outside the United States

If you’re looking to obtain a green card while staying outside the United States, you can follow the consular processing route. Under this process, USCIS will grant you a visa once they approve your Form I-130. Once approved, the petition is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) where a case number is assigned and the beneficiary spouse is asked to complete DS-261 (unless an attorney has already been appointed).

Further, the NVC will notify both the petitioner and beneficiary to pay the necessary fees and submit the required documents, such as the Affidavit of Support and application forms, for an immigrant visa. Besides, other expenses may include costs for document translation, photocopying, and a medical examination fee, which might differ.

Documents Required to Get a Green Card Through Marriage

There are several documents that you should consider including in your petition while applying for a green card through marriage. The documents will be validated depending on your circumstances and the evidence that support your relationship. For instance, your traveling or vacation pictures with your spouse. Similarly, if you and your spouse have a child together, you must attach the child’s birth certificate with your application.

If the documents aren’t in English, they should be accompanied by a certified translation.

The following is a basic list of documents that you may need to provide for your marriage-based green card application. However, it’s important to consult with your immigration attorney to prepare a comprehensive list based on your specific case.

Documentation from a US Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident Spouse

  • Copy of Passport
  • Copy of Form I-551 (Permanent Resident Card)
  • Passport photos
  • Income tax returns for the last few years
  • Evidence that all prior marriages have been terminated such as a final divorce decree (if applicable)

Documentation from Foreign Nationals Seeking Green Card

  • Copy of passport
  • Copy of birth certificate
  • Passport photos
  • Proof that all prior marriages have been terminated such as a final divorce decree (if applicable)

Joint Documentation

  • Photos of you and your spouse in various settings (your wedding, with friends, parties, vacations, etc.)
  • Marriage certificate
  • Any documentation with both your and your spouse’s names on it
  • Joint lease agreement or mortgage
  • Evidence of a joint bank account
  • Joint health insurance policy
  • Birth certificates for any children you’ve had together
  • Joint credit card statements
  • Joint car insurance
  • Letters from friends addressing both of you

What are the Fees to Get a Green Card Through Marriage?

Here’s a breakdown of the fees that you should anticipate throughout the green card through the marriage application process:

This is the fee that your immigration lawyer will charge you for preparing and filing your application. The cost will vary depending on your lawyer.

Form I-130 USCIS Filing Fee

The Form I-130 filing fee charged by USCIS is $535.

If you opt for Adjustment of Status

If you are applying for adjustment of status, you will need to file Form I-485. The filing fee for Form I-485 is currently $1,225.

To Remove Condition on your Green Card

If you’re willing to remove the condition on your green card, you will need to file Form I-751. The Form I-751 filing fee charged by USCIS is $680.

Document Translation Fees

All documents that are in a foreign language, such as a foreign marriage certificate, should be translated into English by a certified translator. The certified translation fees will vary depending on the service provider you choose.

Depending on your specific case, there may be additional fees. To discuss the specifics of your case and its associated costs, you can contact us directly at

How Long Does It Take to Get a Green Card Through Marriage?

Filing I-130

USCIS generally takes around six to twelve months to process.

Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing

To either adjust your status or go through the consular process, it generally takes between 6 to 8 months. However, it’s important to note that a visa is the most essential pre-requisite to proceed with either process. If you’re filing as a spouse of a US citizen, you won’t experience any issues with visa numbers.

However, if you’re filing as a spouse of a US permanent resident, there may be numerical limits on the number of visas available each year. You can check the visa bulletin to see if a visa is currently available.

If you’re filing as a spouse of a US citizen, you may be eligible to file your adjustment of status concurrently with your Form I-130. But if you’re filing as a spouse of a US permanent resident, you can only file your adjustment of status concurrently with your Form I-130 if there’s currently a visa available.

Note: These processes can be a bit tricky, feel free to contact us at

K-1 Visa to Green Card

If you possess a K-class visa and are willing to change it to a green card through marriage, the process involves your spouse filing an I-130 petition for you.

Once the petition is approved and your priority date is current with the final action dates provided in the visa bulletin, you can file the I-485 form to change your nonimmigrant status to immigrant green card status. If you’re still in the US under K status, you may not be required to undergo consular processing, but the USCIS has the authority to require a consular interview for any prospective immigrant.

Following-To-Join Benefits

If your children aren’t permanent residents but you’ve acquired your green card through an immigrant visa preference level, they may be eligible for follow-to-join benefits in some cases. You need to submit the following items to the USCIS for taking your children along:

– An I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Petition

– A copy of the I-130 that you used to obtain your green card

– A copy of the I-797 Notice of Action that you received for your green card petition

– A copy of your green card

Marriage-Based Green Card Denial

If your green card application based on marriage is denied, the USCIS will usually provide a reason for the denial in the letter. However, it’s better to avoid a denial altogether, and here are some common reasons why it may occur:

  • Your marriage was not considered bona fide. If your marriage is legal and you didn’t marry for the sole purpose to acquire a green card, you shouldn’t have to worry about this. However, if the USCIS doubts the legitimacy of your marriage, you may face obstacles during the interview process.
  • Your history is problematic. This can happen if you have a criminal background or a history of violating your immigration status. If you have ever been out of status, you may not be able to obtain a green card through marriage.
  • There were errors on your petition. If there is inconsistent, incomplete, or incorrect information on your petition, it can cause problems. However, the USCIS may reject the petition rather than deny it, which means that you can correct the mistake and refile the petition with a new filing fee.

If your marriage-based green card petition is denied, the denial letter should include instructions for appealing the decision. If you decide to appeal, it’s best to have an immigration attorney to guide you through the appeals process.

What Questions Will I be Asked During the Marriage Interview?

Here’s a complete list of probable questions that can be asked of you during the marriage interview:

  1. Spouse’s Background and Basic Knowledge About Spouse
  • Which city was your spouse born in?
  • What is your spouse’s birthday?
  • List your spouse’s residences over the last 10 years.
  • How many siblings does your spouse have? What are their names?
  1. Basic Information Relating to Your Relationship with Your Spouse
  • How did you meet your spouse?
  • Where and how did your spouse propose to you?
  • Where did you get married?
  • Where was your honeymoon?
  1. Household Information
  • What are the colors of the walls in your home?
  • Do you have a television in your bedroom?
  • What type of flooring do you have in your home? (wood, tile, etc.)
  1. Spouse’s Personal Information
  • What is your nickname for your spouse?
  • Does your spouse have any distinct birthmarks or scars?
  • What cologne/perfume does your spouse wear?


Congo! You’ve now reached the end of this guide and must got a strong hold of the process, requirements, and necessary documents of obtaining a green card through marriage. However, we understand that this information can be overwhelming and complex.

Don’t worry if you don’t fully grasp everything in this guide. We highly recommend you to work with an experienced immigration lawyer. With our assistance, the process can be much easier and less stressful. So, why not take the stress out of the process and seek professional guidance? CONTACT US NOW!

Marriage-Based Green Card Frequently Asked Questions


What is the age requirement to sponsor a marriage-based green card?

There is no specific age requirement to sponsor a marriage-based green card. However, the sponsor must be a US citizen or a green card holder and must meet the income requirements to sponsor their spouse. If the sponsor is under the age of 18, they will need to have a legal guardian or parent act as a joint sponsor to help meet the financial requirements. It’s important to note that the sponsor must be at least 18 years old to sign an affidavit of support, which is a required document in the green card application process.

What should I do if I was a permanent resident when I filed a green card petition for my foreign spouse but now I am a citizen?

To expedite your green card application, upgrade your earlier filed F2 green card petition to an immediate relative (IR) category by providing proof of your citizenship to the NVC. Immediate relative applicants are given higher priority, and this’ll accelerate the process for you.

What happens if they divorce before the end of the 2-year period?

If a foreign-born spouse gets divorced before completing the 2-year conditional permanent residency period, they can file Form I-751 to request a “good faith marriage waiver.” This waiver allows the spouse to apply for a green card without the need for their US-citizen spouse to jointly apply. It’s imperative to note that immediate family members, such as unmarried children under 21 and parents of US citizens over 21, may also apply for a green card as immediate relatives.



Leave a Comment