Law

Understanding The Timeline For A Marriage Green Card What To Expect

Who can apply for a marriage green card?

A marriage green card, officially known as a marriage-based adjustment of status, is a process that allows certain foreign nationals who are married to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to apply for lawful permanent residency (green card) in the United States. Generally, the following individuals may be eligible to apply for a marriage green card:

  • Spouse of a U.S. Citizen: If you are legally married to a U.S. citizen, you may be eligible to apply for a marriage green card. This is one of the most common scenarios for obtaining a marriage-based green card.
  • Spouse of a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR): If you are legally married to an LPR (someone who holds a green card), you may also be eligible to apply for a marriage green card. However, there might be limitations on the number of green cards available for this category each year, which can lead to potential delays.
  • Same-Sex Spouse: Same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens and LPRs have the same eligibility for marriage-based green cards as opposite-sex spouses. Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, same-sex marriage is recognized and treated equally under U.S. immigration law.
  • Conditional vs. Permanent Green Card: If the marriage is less than two years old at the time the green card is granted, the foreign spouse will generally receive a conditional green card that is valid for two years. After two years, the conditions must be removed through a separate application to obtain a permanent green card.
  • Marriage Validity and Bona Fide Relationship: It’s important to note that the marriage must be valid and genuine, not entered into solely for immigration purposes. USCIS will assess the authenticity of the marriage to prevent fraud.
  • Nonimmigrant Visa Holders: Foreign nationals in the U.S. on certain nonimmigrant visas (such as F-1 student or H-1B worker visas) may be eligible to adjust their status to a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen or LPR. However, they need to be cautious of the 90-day rule, which can impact their application if they marry and apply for a green card within 90 days of entering the U.S.

It’s important to keep in mind that each case is unique, and eligibility requirements can change based on immigration laws and regulations. If you’re considering applying for a marriage-based green card, it’s advisable to consult with an immigration attorney or a reputable immigration consultant. They can assess your specific situation, guide you through the process, and ensure that you meet all the eligibility criteria and requirements.

How long does it take to obtain a spousal visa if foreign spouse is in the U.S.?

Obtaining a spousal visa for a foreign spouse who is already in the United States and wants to apply for lawful permanent residency (green card) through marriage can involve a multi-step process. The processing time can vary based on factors such as the USCIS service center handling the case, the complexity of the case, the availability of interview slots, and any potential delays. Here’s a general overview of the process and estimated timelines:

  • Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative): The U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse must file Form I-130 to establish the relationship between the petitioner and the foreign spouse. The processing time for Form I-130 can vary but may take several months. As of my last update in September 2021, processing times were subject to change, so it’s important to check the USCIS website for current estimates.
  • Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status): After the Form I-130 is approved, the foreign spouse can file Form I-485 to adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident. The processing time for Form I-485 can also vary but may take several months to a year or more, depending on factors like case complexity and USCIS workload.
  • Biometrics Appointment: As part of the adjustment of status process, the foreign spouse will receive a notice for a biometrics appointment to have fingerprints and photographs taken. The appointment is typically scheduled within a few weeks after filing Form I-485.
  • Adjustment of Status Interview: In many cases, USCIS will require the foreign spouse and U.S. citizen spouse to attend an adjustment of status interview. The interview is usually scheduled several months after filing Form I-485. The interview is an opportunity for USCIS to verify the authenticity of the marriage and assess the eligibility of the foreign spouse for a green card.
  • Green Card Issuance: If the adjustment of status application is approved, the foreign spouse will be granted lawful permanent residency (green card). The green card will be mailed to the foreign spouse’s address.

It’s important to note that processing times can change, and individual cases can vary. While USCIS provides estimated processing times on their website, these estimates are subject to change based on various factors. Additionally, there might be additional steps or requirements specific to your case that influence the overall timeline.

If you’re planning to apply for a spousal visa or adjust status through marriage, consider consulting with an immigration attorney or accredited representative. They can provide personalized guidance based on your situation and help you navigate the process as smoothly as possible.

How long does it take to obtain a spousal visa if foreign spouse is abroad?

Obtaining a spousal visa for a foreign spouse who is outside the United States and wants to enter the country to join their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) spouse can involve a multi-step process. The processing time can vary based on factors such as the type of visa being applied for, the U.S. embassy or consulate’s workload, the accuracy of the application, and any potential administrative processing. Here’s a general overview of the process and estimated timelines:

  • Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative): The U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse must file Form I-130 to establish the relationship between the petitioner and the foreign spouse. The processing time for Form I-130 can vary but may take several months. As of my last update in September 2021, processing times were subject to change, so it’s important to check the USCIS website for current estimates.
  • National Visa Center (NVC) Processing: Once the Form I-130 is approved, the case is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will process the case, request additional documentation, and provide instructions for paying fees and submitting required forms.
  • Consular Processing: After NVC processing, the case is forwarded to the U.S. embassy or consulate in the foreign spouse’s home country. The embassy or consulate will schedule an interview for the foreign spouse. The interview wait time can vary based on the specific embassy or consulate, time of year, and other factors.
  • Interview and Visa Issuance: The foreign spouse will attend an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate. If approved, the visa will be stamped in the foreign spouse’s passport. The visa will allow the foreign spouse to enter the United States.
  • Entry to the U.S.: After receiving the visa, the foreign spouse can travel to the United States. Upon arrival, they will be inspected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the port of entry. If admitted, the foreign spouse will be granted a temporary I-551 stamp in their passport, which serves as evidence of their lawful permanent residency.
  • Green Card Processing: After entry to the U.S., the foreign spouse will receive their actual green card in the mail. This card will serve as evidence of their lawful permanent residency.

The overall timeline for obtaining a spousal visa can vary widely, ranging from several months to over a year, depending on the specific circumstances of the case and the processing times at different stages of the process.

It’s important to note that processing times can change, and individual cases can vary. If you’re planning to apply for a spousal visa, it’s advisable to consult with an immigration attorney or accredited representative to ensure that you have accurate information and to receive guidance tailored to your situation.

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