There are tens of thousands of Americans who marry foreign spouses every year. As a result of the marriage, the spouse born outside of the United States becomes eligible for getting a green card based on their marriage. If you intend to live in the United States with your spouse, the next step you have to do is apply for a marriage-based green card. The green card will allow your spouse to travel and stay in the United States and later apply for US citizenship when they become eligible. In this article, we will see the adjustment of status through marriage with a US citizen or lawful permanent resident by applying for a marriage-based green card in the US.
What is the procedure for applying for a marriage-based green card?
Typically there are two ways to apply for a marriage-based green card-
- Firstly, through adjustment of your status if you are living inside the United States.
- If you are not living in the United States, you can go for consular processing.
Adjustment of Status refers to adjusting your non-immigrant status to immigrant status while living in the United States.
For example- If you have entered into the US as a student on an F-1 visa. While you maintain lawful status on your non-immigrant visa, you fall in love with a US citizen and marry them during your studies. You become eligible to adjust your non-immigrant status to immigrant status. The process is known as adjustment of status. The steps to adjust your status on the married-based green card route are-
Filing Form I-130
The first step for your adjustment application is filing Form I-130, also known as “Petition for Alien Relative.” This form is to establish the legitimacy of your marriage relationship. The spouse who is a US citizen or lawful permanent resident files Form I-130 petition on your behalf. This form is filed along with the supporting documents to prove that the petitioner (US spouse) is allowed to sponsor the application and to prove the bonafide married relationship with the beneficiary(foreign spouse).
Following are the documents required along with Form I-130.
- Proof of sponsor’s US citizenship or legal permanent residency status.
- Documentary evidence of marriage.
- Proof that marriage is bonafide.
- Evidence of the beneficiary’s national identity in their home country.
- Proof of legal name change (if applicable)
You can file Form I-130 online or mail the documents along with Form I-130 to the USCIS mailing address. You can find details of the filing address here. The filing location for your Form I-130 depends on where you live and if you are filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence, or adjust status at the same time (this is called “concurrent filing”). The filing fee for Form I-130 is $535.
Filing Form I-485
The next step after approval of Form I-130 is to file Form I-485. This form is used to show that the foreign spouse is qualified for US permanent residency. You can file Form I-485 if a visa number is available for you. Typically if you have married a US citizen, a visa number is immediately available to you, and you can file I-130 and I-485 petitions together. The filing fee for Form I-485, if you are between 14 and 78 years old, is $1225(it includes $1,140 for the green card application and $85 for biometrics.) However, the fee may differ based on your age. You can find more detail about the fees here.
Following are the key documents you required while submitting Form I-485-
- Documentation proof of the spouse’s nationality seeking a green card
- Proof that you have entered into the US lawfully and have maintained the lawful status((copy of I-94 travel record.)
- Proof of medical examination performed by a USCIS-approved doctor
- Proof of filed Form I-864(Affidavit of Support) to show evidence that the sponsoring spouse can financially support the foreign spouse.
You can find the mailing address to file Form I-485 here.
USCIS will verify your documents before calling you for an interview. You have to attend an interview before you get a green card. It is the last step towards your green card application. In your interview, the interviewing officer will determine the legitimacy of your marriage. A few basic questions will be asked at the interview such as-
- How, when, and where did you meet your spouse?
- What is your spouse’s date of birth?
- What type of work does your spouse do?
- Where did your spouse work when you met him/her?
These are some of the questions that might be asked at the interview. Consult an immigration attorney to give a mock interview to prepare well for the interview.
A conditional green card will be granted if you’ve been married for less than two years at the time of application. After two years, you can apply for a permanent green card.
How long does it take to get a marriage-based green card?
To begin, let’s be clear that there isn’t a specific timeline to determine the outcome of the application. Each marriage is unique, as it is based on a variety of criteria. However, typically if you are married to a US citizen, the adjustment application might take less time(approximately 10-18 months), while if your spouse is lawful permanent residence in the US, you can expect more time (up to 36 months or more) for your application to be approved.
This is the process of adjustment of your status through a marriage-based green card. If you have any doubts regarding your immigration application, immigration attorneys at Sethi and Mazaheri law firm will help you with your case and assist you with your immigration-related queries. Make sure to drop your questions to us.