What is the application process for a marriage-based green card?
The application process for a marriage-based green card (permanent resident card) in the United States involves several steps, often collectively referred to as the “Adjustment of Status” (AOS) process. This process allows a foreign spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to apply for a green card without leaving the U.S. Here’s an overview of the steps involved:
- Determine Eligibility: Ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria. This typically includes being married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and having entered the U.S. legally.
- File Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative): The U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse files Form I-130 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to establish the familial relationship. This petition demonstrates the authenticity of the marriage.
- Receive Form I-130 Approval: Once USCIS approves the Form I-130, it establishes the validity of the marriage. The case is then usually transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing.
- File Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status): The foreign spouse files Form I-485 with USCIS to apply for the actual green card. This step includes submitting supporting documents and evidence of the bona fide marital relationship.
- Biometrics Appointment: USCIS schedules a biometrics appointment for the foreign spouse to provide fingerprints, photographs, and signature for background checks.
- File Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization): If the foreign spouse wishes to work in the U.S. while the green card application is being processed, they can file Form I-765 for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
- File Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document): If the foreign spouse needs to travel outside the U.S. while the green card application is pending, they can file Form I-131 for a travel document (Advance Parole).
- Attend Green Card Interview: USCIS schedules an in-person interview to assess the authenticity of the marriage. Both spouses are typically required to attend this interview. Be prepared to answer questions about your relationship and provide additional evidence if requested.
- Receive Decision: USCIS will make a decision on your green card application based on the evidence provided and the interview. If approved, the foreign spouse will receive a conditional or permanent green card.
- Conditional Green Card (if applicable): If the marriage was less than two years old at the time of obtaining the green card, a conditional green card is issued. Within the 90-day period before the conditional green card’s expiration, you will need to file Form I-751 to remove the conditions and obtain a permanent green card.
- Receive Permanent Green Card (if applicable): If the marriage was over two years old at the time of obtaining the green card or after successfully removing conditions, you will receive a permanent green card.
It’s important to follow the USCIS instructions, provide accurate information, and submit all required documents and fees on time. The marriage-based green card process can be complex, and timelines can vary. Consulting with an experienced immigration attorney can help ensure that you navigate the process correctly and increase your chances of a successful outcome.
How long does it take to get a marriage green card approved if the beneficiary is in the U.S.?
The processing time for a marriage-based green card (Adjustment of Status) for a beneficiary who is already in the U.S. can vary based on a variety of factors. Here are some general guidelines to give you an idea of the typical processing times:
- Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens: Immediate relatives, which include spouses of U.S. citizens, generally have a higher processing priority. On average, the processing time for immediate relatives’ green card applications could range from 8 months to over a year. USCIS often prioritizes these cases due to the close family relationship.
- Family Preference Categories: For family preference categories (such as spouses of green card holders or other relatives of U.S. citizens or green card holders), the processing time can be longer due to annual visa limits and the higher demand for these categories. Processing times for these categories can vary significantly and may range from 1 to 2 years or more.
- Backlogs and USCIS Caseload: USCIS caseloads and backlogs can impact processing times. Delays might occur due to high application volumes or shifts in USCIS priorities.
- Completeness and Accuracy of Application: If your application is complete and the provided information is accurate, it can help expedite the processing time. Incomplete or inaccurate applications may lead to delays due to requests for additional information or corrections.
- Security and Background Checks: USCIS conducts background and security checks for all applicants, which can contribute to the processing time.
- COVID-19 Pandemic Impact: The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced additional uncertainties and delays to various immigration processes, including green card applications. USCIS has been affected by office closures, reduced staff, and other pandemic-related challenges.
- USCIS Service Center: The specific USCIS service center handling your case can impact processing times. Different service centers might have varying workloads and efficiencies.
To get the most accurate and up-to-date information on processing times, it’s recommended to visit the official USCIS website and specifically the “Check Processing Times” page. You can enter the specific USCIS service center and the type of application to get an idea of the current processing timeline. You can also subscribe to USCIS case status updates to receive notifications about your case’s progress.
Keep in mind that these processing times are approximate and can change over time. If you have concerns about delays or specific circumstances affecting your case, you may consider consulting with an immigration attorney for guidance.
How long does it take to get a marriage green card approved if the beneficiary is abroad?
The processing time for a spousal visa (Consular Processing) for a beneficiary who is abroad can also vary based on multiple factors. Here are some general guidelines to give you an idea of the typical processing times:
- Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens: Immediate relatives, including spouses of U.S. citizens, often have a higher processing priority. The processing time for these cases can vary, but it’s generally more predictable compared to other family preference categories. It might take several months to a year or more, depending on the specific circumstances and the U.S. embassy or consulate’s workload.
- Family Preference Categories: For family preference categories (such as spouses of green card holders or other relatives of U.S. citizens or green card holders), processing times can be longer due to annual visa limits and demand. Processing times can range from several months to multiple years, depending on the specific category and the demand for visas.
- National Visa Center (NVC) Processing: After the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves the Form I-130, the case is transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC performs preliminary processing tasks, including collecting required documents and fees. The NVC processing can take a few months to complete.
- U.S. Embassy/Consulate Processing: After the NVC processing is complete, the case is transferred to the U.S. embassy or consulate in the beneficiary’s home country. The processing time at the embassy or consulate can vary widely depending on the specific location, demand, and appointment availability. The beneficiary will need to attend an interview at the embassy or consulate.
- Background Checks and Administrative Processing: The U.S. embassy or consulate may need to conduct background checks or administrative processing on the application, which can cause additional delays.
- COVID-19 Pandemic Impact: The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected visa processing at U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide. Many consular offices experienced closures, reduced capacity, and changes to processing protocols, leading to extended processing times.
To get the most accurate and up-to-date information on processing times for specific U.S. embassies or consulates, you can visit the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Bulletin and Consular Processing Time websites. Additionally, you can monitor the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate where the beneficiary will have their interview for specific information about processing times and appointment availability.
Keep in mind that processing times are approximate and can change due to a variety of factors. If you have concerns about delays or specific circumstances affecting your case, you may consider consulting with an immigration attorney for guidance. Read more “list your business in the” “free and paid submission to the” “add your site” statistics
Tips on expediting the marriage green card process
While there is no guaranteed way to expedite the marriage green card process, there are some steps you can take to ensure a smoother and potentially faster application process. Keep in mind that each case is unique, and the ability to expedite can be limited by factors such as USCIS workload and policies. Here are some tips that might help:
- Submit a Complete and Accurate Application: Ensuring that your application is complete and accurate from the start can help prevent delays caused by USCIS requesting additional information or corrections. Double-check all forms and supporting documents before submitting.
- Stay Informed: Regularly check the USCIS website and other official sources for updates and changes to processing times and requirements. USCIS sometimes updates its procedures or forms, which could impact your application.
- File Online: Many USCIS forms are available for online submission, which can potentially speed up the process compared to mailing paper forms. USCIS Online Accounts also allow you to track your case’s progress.
- Premium Processing (If Eligible): While premium processing is generally not available for marriage-based green card applications, it’s worth checking if it becomes available for certain categories or circumstances.
- Prioritize Immediate Relative Categories: Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, including spouses, have higher priority in the processing queue. USCIS often processes these cases more quickly due to the close family relationship.
- Optimize Document Collection: Prepare comprehensive and organized documentation to support the authenticity of your marriage. This can include joint financial records, shared bills, photos together, and affidavits from friends and family.
- Consider Concurrent Filing: If eligible, filing Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) and Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) concurrently can save time, as USCIS can process them together.
- Respond Promptly to Requests: If USCIS requests additional evidence or information, respond promptly. Delays in responding can extend your processing time.
- Request Expedite (When Applicable): In certain cases, you might be able to request an expedite based on humanitarian reasons, financial loss, emergency situations, or other compelling circumstances. Provide documented evidence to support your request.
- Consult with an Immigration Attorney: An experienced immigration attorney can help you navigate the process, ensure accurate submission, and provide advice on whether any available expedite options might apply to your case.
- Monitor USCIS Updates: USCIS might announce new initiatives, policy changes, or opportunities to expedite certain categories. Staying informed can help you take advantage of any available options.
Remember that while these tips might increase your chances of a smoother process, there is no guaranteed way to expedite the process in all cases. Consulting with an immigration attorney is strongly recommended to ensure you’re making informed decisions and taking the appropriate steps for your specific situation.