Marriage Green Card Guide
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Marriage Green Card
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Before We Get Started...
In this guide, we are going to explain everything you need to know when applying for a marriage-based green card. If you haven't got married but planned to marry a U.S. citizen in the United States, click here to see our guide for the K1 (fiancé) visa.
The processing/waiting time depends on whether you are married to a U.S. citizen or green card holder and where you currently reside. You can see more details here.
Living in the U.S. and married to a U.S. citizen: 10 - 13 months
Living in the U.S. and married to a green card holder: 29 - 38 months
Living abroad and married to a U.S. citizen: 11 - 17 months
Living abroad and married to a green card holder: 23 - 32 months
Estimated Cost (government fees + medical exam fees)
For applicants who currently live in the U.S. the fee for their marriage green card is $1,760. (I-130: $535, I-485: $1140, Biometrics: $85)
For applicants who are applying from outside of the U.S. is $1,200. (I-130: $535, NVC application processing: $445, Physical green card fee: $220)
**Filing fee is subject to change by USCIS.
Medical exam fees: $100-$500 (Fees may vary by provider. )
What is a Marriage Green Card?
If you are a non-U.S. citizen married to a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, you can apply for a marriage green card to live and work in the U.S. region permanently. A marriage green card will also make you eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after three years of possession.
What are the Legal Requirements for Applying for a Marriage Green Card?
To apply for a marriage requirement, you must have a legal marriage certificate to meet the legal requirement to apply for a marriage green card.
In general, there are four different paths to apply for a marriage green card depending on where the applicants reside and whether their spouse is a U.S. citizen or a green card holder. Here we have step-by-step guides for each path to help you navigate the process with ease.
Check out our marriage green card guides that apply to your case.
- Marriage Green Card Guide: Living in the U.S. and Married to a U.S. Citizen
- Marriage Green Card Guide: Living in the U.S. and Married to a U.S. Green Card Holder
- Marriage Green Card Guide: Living Abroad and Married to a U.S. Citizen
- Marriage Green Card Guide: Living Abroad and Married to a U.S. Green Card Holder
Before you file for your application for the marriage green card, make sure you are legally married to a U.S. Citizen or legal permanent resident and have documents to support the legitimacy of your marriage.
Next, you will file your form I-130 and I-485, the Adjustment of Status document to the USCIS, attend the green card interview, and wait for the USCIS’s response to your application.
1. Proof of Sponsor eligibility
For U.S. Citizenship:
- U.S. birth certificate
- Valid U.S. passport
- Naturalization Certificate
- Certificate of Citizenship
- Consular Report of Birth Abroad
Note: A child born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent or parents may acquire U.S. citizenship at birth if certain requirements are met. A Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA, or Form FS-240) is a document that certifies a child acquired U.S. citizenship at birth. You can refer to details listed on Travel.state.gov.
For Permanent Resident (green card holder):
- Green card (permanent resident card)
- Passport issued in another country and bearing stamp or temporary permanent residency in the United States
2. Proof of valid marriage
- Marriage certificate
- Joint leases
- Joint bank account statements
- Photos of you together
- Letters from friends and relatives proving your relationship
3. Proof of termination of prior marriage(s) (if applicable)
Any of the below can serve as the proof varying by situations:
- a divorce decree
- a death certificate of the other spouse
- a certificate of annulment
4. Proof of an official name change (if applicable)
Any of the below can serve as proof:
- a marriage certificate
- a court order of name change
- adoption papers
5. Petitioner’s passport photos*2:
Every sponsor (petitioner) needs to provide 2 passport-style photos (2 inches by 2 inches) with their Form I-130 petition. These photos are apart from any other application requirements you may be filing at the same time as Form I-130.
How Much Does a Marriage Green Card Cost?
The fee for a marriage green card varies based on where the applicant currently resides. For applicants who currently live in the U.S. the fee for their marriage green card is $1,760; While the fee for a marriage green card for applicants applying from outside of the U.S. is $1,200.
An initial break-down of the fees being charged in details:
Note: The DS-260, officially called “immigrant visa application, ” is for those applying outside the United States. The applicant needs to file the DS-260 online form, which is handled through the National Visa Center (NVC) and the applicant-designated, local U.S. embassy, or consulate.
DS-261, "Online Choice of Address and Agent,” is a relatively simple form that informs the State Department how to communicate with you during your application.
1. Submit the application form: I-130, I-485/DS-260 for green card application
- I-130: Petition for Alien Relatives
- I-485: Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
- DS-260: Online Immigrant Visa Forms
- DS-261: Online Choice of Address and Agent
- Form I-864: Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA
- Form I-944: Declaration of Self Sufficiency (A new form imposed on February 24, 2020, due to USCIS' new Public Charge Rule)
- Form I-765: Work permit application form (if the immigrant spouse wants to work in the U.S.)
- Form I-131 Travel permit application form (if the immigrant spouse wants to travel abroad.)
2. Receive USCIS Receipt Notice (Form I-797)
You’ll receive a notice from the USCIS letting you know they have received your application. It will have the serial number for your case, which you can then use to check your application status.
3. Receive Biometrics Appointment Notice
You will receive a notification from the USCIS informing you of the time, date, and location of your biometrics appointment.
4. The Applicant Attends the Biometrics Appointment
You will attend the biometric appointment at the designated time and date at the appointed USCIS Application Support Center. During which the USCIS will collect your fingerprint, photograph, signatures, etc.
5. Interview Notice Arrives for the Sponsor and Applicant
After your biometrics appointment, you will receive the interview notice from the USCIS informing you of the date, time, and location of your interview, and also the documents you need to bring with you for the interview.
6. The Sponsor and Applicant Attends the Green Card Interview
You and your sponsor (spouse) will then both attend the green card interview at the scheduled time and date at the designated location. Have all documents requested with you.
This is a process for the USCIS officer to verify the information you have provided and to also verify that you are in good standing.
7. Complete the application and receive the Green Card
If you are approved, you will receive your green card after around 7 to 10 months (this is an estimated time and may vary depending on your location and status)
According to where you currently reside and the status of your spouse, below is a rough estimate of the time it’ll take to process your application.
Track Case Status and Processing Time
To track your case status, you can do it:
If you currently reside in the U.S., you can check your case status via USCIS’s website with the receipt number that came with the Receipt Notice.
If you currently reside outside of the U.S., you can check your case status via NVC’s “Consular Electronic Application Center” (CEAC) website with your Immigration Visa Case Number.
2. By email
This option is only available if you applied from outside of the U.S. You can request your application status update through the NVC’s questionnaire that will ask for your NVC case number or USCIS receipt number, your name, your employer or sponsoring relative’s name, and your birthdate; after filling out the questionnaire, you will receive a response in your email.
3. By phone
If you are in the U.S., call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283. If you have hearing/speech impairment, call TTY at 1-800-767-1833. Make sure to have your A-Number, USCIS Receipt Number available during the call.
If you are outside of the U.S., please check the NVC website for the agency’s most current hours of operation. You can reach the NVC at +1-603-334-0700 during the agency’s hours of operation. The waiting time can be longer than 30 minutes during times with high call volumes. Make sure to have your NVC case number or USCIS receipt number ready at the time of your call.
4. By mail
USCIS will send out official notifications regarding your case, so make sure your mailing address is correct and reachable.
If you are looking for additional information or answers to more specific and complex questions regarding the pending green card application status, it is recommended that you apply for “InfoPass” appointments with a USCIS field office to talk to a USCIS in person. However, this process can be more complicated than the aforementioned options.
If you are applying from outside of the U.S., you can still apply for “InfoPass” under certain situations through the USCIS InfoPass Website.
Depending on the physical location of the spouse and the financial sponsor, waiting times for the Marriage Green Card may differ. For example, the total waiting and processing time for an applicant who is married to a U.S. Citizen and are both physically present in the U.S. is approximately 10-13 months. However, if the spouse is abroad during the time of filing, the waiting time can take up to 17 months. In other words, the process moves faster when both the spouse and the financial sponsor are located in the United States as they wait for their green card in the mail.
The processing time is also heavily dependent on the filing of the I-485, which establishes the basis for a Biometrics appointment and then an interview with the spouse and financial sponsor. These timelines are incorporated in the Adjustment of Status Guide.