A green card through marriage to a US citizen is the most common way to become a permanent resident. The spouse of a US citizen is an “immediate relative”. This means that there is no limit on the number of people who can obtain green cards through marriage to US citizens.
The US citizen starts the process by submitting a form I-130 visa petition on behalf of his/her spouse. If the spouse entered the US lawfully, he/she can file for Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) at the same time and get a green card without having to leave the US.
Helpful information for those seeking a green card through marriage is available at:
If the marriage is less than two years old when the green card is granted, it will expire in two years. The couple must submit a form I-751 joint petition during the 90-day period prior before the expiration of the green card. This way, the foreign-born spouse can obtain a ten-year green card.
If you have a two-year green card, but get divorced, see our video I-751 Waiver Where Marriage Ends in Divorce.
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Green Card Through Marriage – Subtopics:
- General Information
- Success Stories
- Green Card through Marriage FAQs
- Green Card through Marriage Procedure
- Green Card through Marriage – Additional Resources
- How-To Videos
- How to Prepare for Your Green Card Marriage Interview
- Questions Asked in Green Card Marriage Interviews
- Affidavits of Support
- Adjustment of Status
- I-751 Removal Of Conditions
- I-751 Waiver Where Marriage Ends in Divorce
- USCIS – Revised Interview Waiver Guidance for Form I-751 (11-30-18)
GREEN CARD THROUGH MARRIAGE INFORMATION
- Would You Pass the Immigration Marriage Exam?
- How Do I Help My Fiance Become a Permanent Resident? (USCIS)
- Immigrant Visas for Spouses/Fiancees of US Citizens (State Department)
- USCIS Guidance for Spousal Petitions Involving Minors (4-12-19)
- A Marriage Used to Prevent Deportation. Not Anymore. (8-19-18)
- Guidance Regarding Surviving Spouses of Deceased U.S. Citizens & Their Children – USCIS (12-02-09)
SUCCESS STORIES – GREEN CARD THROUGH MARRIAGE
- Proving that a Marriage is Bona Fide
- Getting a Green Card in Juarez (The Hard Way)
- Green Card Granted to Abandoned Spouse
- Spouse of U.S. Citizen – Easy Case? Read On!
- Wife of Air Force Sergeant Escapes Immigration Nightmare
- Saving a Divorcee from Deportation
- Bringing a Deported Spouse Back to the U.S.
- Rules of Engagement: Obtaining a Green Card for a Fiance (the Hard Way)
Green Card Through Marriage FAQs
- How Long Does It Takes to Get a Green Card through Marriage?
- What Applications Do I Need to File with the USCIS to Sponsor My Spouse for a Green Card?
- How Much Does It Cost Get a Green Card through Marriage?
- What Questions Will We be Asked at Your Interview?
- Do I Need to Hire an Attorney?
At most USCIS District Offices, the waiting time to get an interview is between 14 and 18 months. Sometimes, you may be approved for a green card on the day of your interview. Other times, you may be asked to submit additional information. Occasionally, the USCIS will have agents go to your neighborhood in order to investigate the bona fides of your marital relationship.
Submitting Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative is the first step in sponsoring your spouse for a Green Card.
USCIS will generally approve your Form I-130 if you can establish a relationship between you and your spouse is bona fide, that is, it is not just to get a green card. If your spouse is already in the United States and has entered the U.S. lawfully, he/she may be eligible to get their Green Card by filing Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status along with Form I-130.
If your spouse legally entered the U.S., you may be able to file all of the above forms together.
The government filing fee for the form I-130 visa petition is $535. The filing fee for the form I-485 packet is $1,225. Note, this does not include the cost of the medical examination,
You do not need to pay additional fees for form I-131 and form I-765 when you file them with an I-485. Fees can be paid by money order, personal check, cashier’s check, and credit card. If you pay by credit card, you must fill out Form G-1450 and include it with your paperwork.
You may be asked about the history of your relationship, your wedding, your daily life, your friends and family, your education and your employment.
You may want to read our Green Card Marriage Questions page in order to prepare for your interview.
If your case is relatively simple, you can file the applications, pay the filing fees and attend your interview without having to hire an attorney.
However, if you or your spouse have been married before, if there are significant differences in your age, race or religion, if your spouse entered the U.S. within the past 90 days, etc., you would be well advised to consult with an immigration attorney.
If the USCIS is suspicious about the bona fides of your marriage, they may separate you and your spouse and interview each of you in separate rooms. If there are any inconsistencies between your answers, they may send an investigator to your home early one morning to interview you, your spouse and your neighbors.
Procedure if You Legally Entered the US
The US citizen must submit a visa petition (Form I-130) to prove that the marriage is bona fide. The foreign-born spouse should file an adjustment of status application (I-485 packet) together with the I-130.
Attach the following items to the I-130: (1) Proof of the citizenship status of the U.S. citizen (A U.S. Passport, a Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship or a certified copy of the citizen’s birth certificate); (2) A certified copy of your marriage certificate; and (3) Certified copies of the documents that ended any previous marriages of you or your spouse. These may be final divorce decrees and/or certificates of annulment or death.
Include the following items with the I-485: (1) Photographs; (2) Affidavit of Support (Form I-864); (3) Application for an EAD work permit (Form I-765); and (4) An Advance Parole travel permit (Form I-131).
Don’t forget to include a check for USCIS filing fees. The USCIS will accept your application for a green card through marriage, cash your check and issue you a receipt. After about six months, they will issue an EAD work permit and an AP travel document. It may take over one year for USCIS to schedule you interview. We link to the USCIS Processing Times for all 80+ District and Sub-Offices.
Procedure if You are Outside the US
The process begins when the US citizen spouse submits a visa petition to the USCIS. The same items which are listed above should be attached to the I-130 form plus government filing fees.
Once the I-130 is approved, the foreign-born spouse will receive a packet from the US National Visa Center (NVC). The packet will list various documents which must be submitted to the NVC (e.g., passport, police clearances, results of medical examinations, etc.). The packet also includes certain forms which must be completed. A check for filing fees is required. Usually, the foreign-born spouse is interviewed and granted an immigrant visa within a few months of your submission of the required documents to the NVC.
Green Card Through Marriage – Additional Resources
Green Card through Marriage – Practice Advisories
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Carl Shusterman served as an INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) before opening a firm specializing exclusively in US immigration law. He is a Certified Specialist in Immigration Law who has testified as an expert witness before the US Senate Immigration Subcommittee. Carl was featured in the February 2018 edition of SuperLawyers Magazine.