| Read Time: 4 minutes | Immigration
How Long Does It Take to Get a Green Card After Marriage

You may be wondering, How long do you have to be married to get a green card?

As long as you are in a genuine, legal marriage, there is no length requirement.

Marrying a U.S. citizen is one of the fastest ways to get a green card. Even so, it typically takes one to two years for an immigrant to receive a marriage-based green card. 

Hiring an experienced immigration attorney can help ensure the green card process goes smoothly.

Contact EMP Law online or call (336) 724-2828 today to learn more about how we can assist you. 

What Is the Green Card Application Process?

How long does it take to get a green card after marriage? To answer that question, you need to know the steps of the green card process. 

Determine Eligibility 

Typically, you are eligible for a marriage-based green card if:

  • You are legally married to a lawful permanent resident (LPR) or U.S. citizen;
  • You can prove the authenticity of the marriage; and
  • You are not otherwise ineligible.

You might be otherwise ineligible if, for example, you have a criminal history. However, with the assistance of an experienced attorney, you may be able to waive those issues.

File Form I-130 and Provide Supporting Documents 

The U.S. citizen or LPR spouse must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). An approved Form I-130 means the immigrant spouse qualifies for a green card based on their relationship with the sponsoring spouse. 

Along with Form I-130, you submit supporting documents, such as: 

  • Your marriage certificate, 
  • Evidence that the sponsoring spouse is a U.S. citizen or LPR, 
  • Proof any previous marriages were terminated, and
  • Documentation of the legitimacy of your marriage.

Typically, to show your marriage is genuine, you will want to establish that you and your spouse:

  • Live together,
  • Have shared children,
  • Have shared assets, or
  • Treat each other as spouses.

To prove you and your spouse act as spouses, you can provide statements from friends and family who know you as a couple.

Await USCIS Processing 

Next, USCIS processes the petition. If they require any additional evidence or have any questions, USCIS will notify you, usually in the form of a Request for Evidence (RFE).

Attend Biometrics Appointment (if applicable) 

USCIS may schedule a biometrics appointment to collect fingerprints, a photograph, and a signature unless the immigrant spouse has recently provided them.

Attend I-130 Interview (if applicable) 

USCIS may require you and your spouse to attend an I-130 interview. 

Request a Green Card

Once USCIS approves your I-130, you can request a green card. The process varies based on where the immigrant spouse is located. Regardless, the sponsoring spouse will need to complete Form I-864, Affidavit of Support.

If the immigrant spouse is in the U.S., you may be able to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, with USCIS. If the immigrant spouse is outside the U.S., you request a green card through a U.S. Consulate abroad through consular processing. 

Concurrent Filing

In certain circumstances, you may file your I-485 together with your I-130 immigration visa petition. Specifically, you can file Form I-485 with Form I-130 when an immigrant visa is immediately available to you. 

An immigrant visa is always available if your spouse is a U.S. citizen. If your spouse is an LPR, you need to consult the visa bulletin to determine whether an immigrant visa is immediately available and also be able to show that you have maintained lawful status from the time of entry to the time of filing. When you file Form I-485 together with Form I-130, USCIS adjudicates them together..

Attend Green Card Interview (if applicable) 

Once you request the green card, you and your spouse are generally required to attend an interview. The interview will be held at a USCIS office in the U.S. (both spouses must attend) or a U.S. Consulate abroad (only the noncitizen spouse attends).  

Receive Decision 

Finally, USCIS or the U.S. Consulate will make a decision. You may be notified at your interview or shortly thereafter. If the application is not approved, you may be able to appeal or reapply. 

Receive Green Card 

If the application is approved in the United States, the immigrant spouse becomes an LPR immediately. If outside the United States, the immigrant spouse will be issued a visa to travel to the United States where they become an LPR upon entry.

What Is the Marriage-Based Green Card Timeline?

Each of the steps explained above affects the marriage green card timeline. 

Determine Eligibility

Ineligibilities can surprise you. You may need to track down divorce or criminal records and consult an attorney to be certain you are eligible. This may take a few days to a few months. 

Form I-130 Processing

Form I-130 and its supporting documents require detailed information. This step can take anywhere from oneto several months or even longer. 

You can check typical case processing times on USCIS’s website. Form I-130s are currently taking 14 to 76 months to process, with longer wait times for LPRs applying for their spouses. Steps included in this processing time include responding to any Requests for Additional Evidence and attending your I-130 interview if requested.

Form I-485 or Consular Processing

You submit additional documentation with your I-485 or consular processing application, which can delay the timeline. 

Currently, USCIS is processing Form I-485s in approximately 12 to 24 months, depending on which office is considering your application. Similarly, the consular processing timeline varies by consulate. You may wait for only a couple of months or more than a year. Your green card interview and actual receipt of the green card are part of this timeline.

Contact an Experienced Immigration Lawyer

If you have wondered how long it takes to get a green card after marriage, we hope this quick guide helped you get an idea. To expedite your request, you must follow all instructions carefully and fill all forms out accurately and completely. If you make mistakes, they can add to the typical timeline.

Consider consulting with an immigration attorney from EMP Law to assist you with the process, especially if you encounter any complexities or challenges.

Get started by calling (336) 724-2828 or filling out our online form today.

Author Photo

Michael provides compassionate, diligent, and creative legal services that are tailored to meet each client’s specific needs. His experience relating to clients from diverse backgrounds makes him well suited for representing his clients across a broad range of legal areas. He practices in the areas of employment law and family law, and is experienced in criminal law.

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