Marriage to a U.S. citizen makes you eligible for a green card but does not automatically give you a green card. It’s not as simple as just getting married to become a green card holder; specific timelines are involved. It can take anywhere from 3-4 years to officially obtain a permanent green card, depending on whether you currently live in the United States or live abroad.
These times have dramatically changed due to Coronavirus. Your applications will be delayed because the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services offices have been closed to the public, postponing in-person interviews and meetings. However, we’ve created this general timeline to show how the process unfolds during a typical application time if you live in the United States with your spouse.
1. Submit Paperwork
Before anything, you’ll need to fill out some paperwork and gather documents to establish the validity of your marriage. This process can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to file your paperwork. The USCIS will review the paperwork between 9-11 months after the filing date. To file, you’ll need the following items:
• Form I-130 – The U.S. citizen must fill out this form to establish that a valid marriage exists. Paperwork that must be included with this form includes proof that the sponsor is a U.S. citizen, evidence of a legal marriage (legal marriage certificate), proof that the marriage is not fraudulent (like a joint bank account or lease) along with a filing fee of $535.
• Form I-485 – This form must be filled out by the spouse looking to obtain a green card. This form helps establish that the spouse is eligible for a green card. Paperwork that must be included with this document includes proof of nationality, proof of lawful entry to the United States (such as a visa or travel record), medical exam, and evidence that your spouse can support you financially, along with a filing fee of $1,225.
2. Attend Your Green Card Interview
After a few months, as long as all documentation and evidence have been properly submitted and accepted, you’ll receive a notice from the USCIS that you’re invited to a green card interview. During this interview, the USCIS officer is looking to determine that all your marriage information is correct. They’ll ask questions about your life, including things like your plans, relationship history, and daily routines together. After the office finishes this process and approves your application, you’ll be eligible to become a conditional resident if you’ve been married for less than two years.
3. Apply for Your Permanent Green Card
Conditional Green Cards are only valid for two years. Ninety days before your conditional green card expires, you can submit the I-751 form, which is a petition asking to remove conditions from your conditional green card to become a permanent resident.
If you’re confused about the filing process or want to ensure that you’re doing everything the right way to avoid being denied or having to resubmit your paperwork, contact an experienced immigration lawyer today.
FOR YOUR FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION WITH THE IMMIGRATION GUY, CALL (760) 280-7900.
Rick Sterger is a licensed attorney practicing immigration law throughout the United States. His practice, located in San Diego, California represents client before United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Executive Office of Immigration Review (Immigration Court), Board of Immigration Appeals, and Circuit Courts of Appeals. Rick proudly maintains the practice of providing his initial client consultation for FREE. To schedule a consultation, call (760) 280-7900 today