A marriage-based immigrant visa, commonly known as a marriage green card, enables individuals to reside and work in the United States. This visa is accessible to spouses of either U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.
The application process for a marriage green card typically spans from 9 to 38 months and involves expenses ranging between $1,400 and $1,960. Eligible candidates can submit their application from within the U.S. or from abroad. This comprehensive guide delineates the nature of a marriage green card and delineates the steps required to obtain one.
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What is a Marriage Green Card?
If you’ve recently married a U.S. citizen or a green card holder, congratulations on this milestone! Your next step towards establishing permanent residency in the U.S. likely involves applying for a marriage-based green card.
The green card, serving as an immigrant visa granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), permits you to permanently live and work in the United States. This card is pivotal as it signifies the initial phase towards potential U.S. citizenship.
Validity Period of a Marriage-Based Green Card
A marriage-based green card holds validity for a specific duration before it necessitates renewal:
If your marriage duration surpasses two years at the time of green card application, you become eligible for the IR1 green card, valid for 10 years.
Conversely, if your marriage tenure is under two years during the application, you’ll obtain a CR1 green card, often referred to as a conditional green card, valid for two years. Post this period, you can apply for renewal to acquire a 10-year green card.
Eligibility Criteria for a Marriage Green Card
To qualify for a marriage-based green card, you must substantiate several factors to the USCIS:
Legality of Your Marriage:
Your marriage must be legally recognized by the government in the country where the union took place to meet immigration standards.
Marriage to a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident:
Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens receive priority in the green card process. Evidence demonstrating your spouse’s U.S. citizenship includes providing copies of their birth certificate, U.S. passport, naturalization certificate, or certificate of citizenship.
Additionally, being married to a U.S. green card holder (lawful permanent resident) allows you to apply for a green card, supported by providing your spouse’s green card copy.
Legitimacy of Your Marriage:
USCIS requires substantial evidence indicating a genuine, bona fide relationship. This involves providing documentation showcasing the genuine development of your life together as a married couple.
Absence of Prior Marriages:
If either party has been previously married, supporting documents such as divorce decrees, death certificates, or other relevant documents must confirm the termination of prior marriages.
How to Apply for a Marriage Green Card
Once you’ve established eligibility for a marriage-based green card, the application process involves three key steps:
Step 1: Submission of Form I-130 and Supporting Documents
Initiate the process by completing Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative, affirming the validity of your marriage to a U.S. citizen or green card holder. Alongside the form, submit essential documents demonstrating the legitimacy of your marriage. These might include joint lease agreements, shared bank account statements, or wedding photos portraying your life together.
Once your I-130 filing package is compiled, you can electronically submit it via your USCIS account or dispatch it to the relevant USCIS address. Platforms like ImmigrationHelp.org offer assistance in preparing Form I-130 via a user-friendly web application.
Step 2: Application for Your Marriage Green Card
This stage diverges based on your current residence – within the U.S. or abroad.
Applying from Within the U.S. via Adjustment of Status:
If residing within the United States, file Form I-485: Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This form facilitates the transition from your current immigration status to a marriage-based green card. Supporting documents, such as your birth certificate, proof of lawful entry, immigration medical examination results, and evidence of financial support from your spouse, must accompany Form I-485.
Applying from Abroad through Consular Processing:
For those residing outside the U.S., employ consular processing after USCIS approves Form I-130. The National Visa Center (NVC) handles this process, notifying applicants about filing the NVC package. This package includes government fees, Form DS-260 (green card application), proof of nationality, police clearance certificates, and financial support evidence from the spouse.
Step 3: Attending the Green Card Interview and Receiving Approval
The final stage involves a green card interview conducted either at a local U.S. embassy or consulate (for consular processing) or at a USCIS field office within the U.S. (for adjustment of status).
During the interview, immigration officers assess the authenticity of the application, posing inquiries about the relationship, daily routines, and future plans as a couple. Expect additional scrutiny if factors suggesting immigration fraud exist, such as significant age differences, a short period of knowing your spouse before marriage, diverse cultural backgrounds, or disparate addresses online.
If applying via adjustment of status (Form I-485), both spouses must attend the USCIS interview. Approval results in the issuance of the green card, arriving by mail within 2–3 weeks.
Alternatively, for consular processing (Form DS-260), only the applicant attends the interview at the U.S. consulate or embassy. Post-interview, the consular officer typically decides on the application within a week. Upon approval, a visa for entry into the U.S. is granted, and upon arrival, the new green card is sent by USCIS to the U.S. address provided.
Processing Duration for a Marriage-Based Green Card
The duration of the process hinges on your residency status and the citizenship of your spouse. It’s a time-consuming process, prompting some individuals to start preparing forms with their partner up to 90 days before marriage.
Processing Times for U.S. Residents Married to a U.S. Citizen Spouse
Total processing time: 10–13 months
Demonstrating the authenticity of marriage with Form I-130 and concurrent green card application (Form I-485): 9–11 months
Attending the green card interview and awaiting the green card: 1–2 months
Processing Times for U.S. Residents Married to a Permanent Resident Spouse
Total processing time: 29–38 months
USCIS approval of Form I-130: 1–15 months
Waiting for an available green card through Visa Bulletin: 8–10 months
Form I-485 processing by USCIS: 9–11 months
Interview and application approval: 1–2 months
Processing Times for Applicants Abroad Married to a U.S. Citizen Spouse
Total processing time: 11–17 months
USCIS approval of I-130: 7–10 months
Additional 4–6 months for NVC to approve DS-260
Processing Times for Applicants Abroad with a Permanent Resident Spouse
Total processing time: 23–32 months
USCIS approval of Form I-130: 11–15 months
Waiting for an available green card number, typically 8–10 months
Submission of DS-260 and an average additional 4–7 months for approval
When is it Advisable to Engage an Attorney for Obtaining a Marriage Green Card?
However, specific situations may necessitate an immigration lawyer. It’s advisable to consider hiring one if:
You’re involved in deportation proceedings.
You’ve previously entered the U.S. unlawfully.
You have a history of criminal activities.
You’ve previously provided false information to obtain immigration benefits.
In such circumstances, an attorney’s expertise can be invaluable. Immigration lawyers comprehend the complexities of immigration law and can validate your eligibility, compile necessary forms, oversee document preparation, and monitor case progress, ensuring compliance with USCIS deadlines and comprehending updates in your case status.
If you possess the time and precision to handle the paperwork, you can opt to proceed with filing your green card application independently. We are here to guide you. Visit http://www.h1b visa jobs.com. for assistance!
Now that you’ve come to the end of this blog, you must be clear of the whole procedure of applying for a marriage Green Card.
The process of obtaining a marriage-based green card is intricate and involves meticulous attention to detail. Whether choosing independent filing or legal guidance, thorough preparation and adherence to USCIS regulations are pivotal for a successful marriage-based green card application. For all other assistance, contact us!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I work while I wait for my marriage-based green card?
Yes, if you applied for your green card while residing in the U.S., you can work by applying for a work permit using Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) when submitting your Form I-485 for adjustment of status. There’s no additional fee if you file your I-765 with your I-485. Typically, the work permit is received within 4–6 months after form submission.
Can I leave the U.S. while I wait for my marriage-based green card?
Certainly! If you’re waiting for your green card and need to depart the U.S., you can apply for Advance Parole using Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document) concurrently with your Form I-485 for adjustment of status. There’s no extra fee for including your I-131 with your I-485 filing. Generally, Advance Parole documents are obtained within 4–6 months after form submission.
How long after marriage can I get a green card?
The timeline for obtaining a green card post-marriage varies due to factors such as application type and USCIS processing times. For instance, a marriage green card or spousal visa may take anywhere from 14–40 months.
Can husband and wife apply for green card separately?
Yes, each spouse may submit a separate entry if they meet the eligibility criteria. If one is selected, the other is eligible for derivative status.
Are there any warning signs in a marriage-based green card application?
If you plan to marry someone previously involved in sponsoring someone else for a green card, this could raise suspicion and be considered a marriage of convenience by USCIS. Similarly, marrying someone with a criminal history involving fraud or dishonesty with authorities might also raise red flags.