If you are applying for a marriage green card and 1) you and your spouse are both living in the United States, 2) your spouse is a U.S. citizen, then this is the guide for you!
Before you continue with the following content, make sure to first go through our general overview of the marriage-based green card application process to have a better understanding of the entire process before this article explains each process of the application in detail.
10 - 13 months total (9 - 11 months on application processing and 1 - 2 months for the scheduling of the interview)
- $1,760 for the total application fee
- $200 for the mandatory medical exam
If, after reading both guides, you are still uncertain of your eligibility for applying for a green card for a spouse, try out our eligibility test to determine if this is the right application for you!
Step 1: Filing Your Green Card Application
For applicants and their sponsoring spouse that both live in the United States, your process of applying for a marriage green card is shorter than others! You can combine the two parts of the application process - the part where you establish your marriage relationship with Form I-130 (Not sure what I-130 is? Check here) and apply for the green card with Form I-485 (Learn more about the form before you start here), into one “concurrent filing,” and send them all together in one single package to the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).
In your visa application package, you should make sure you have all of the following required forms, supporting documents, and payment for the government fees.
Required and Optional Forms
There are two main steps in preparing the required documents for a marriage-based green card.
1. Establish the marriage relationship
- Form I-130: Family sponsorship
- Form I-130A: Supplemental information
2. Apply for the green card
- Form I-485: Green card application
- Form I-864: Financial support
- Form I-944: Declaration of self-sufficiency
- Form I-693: Report for the Authorization of Medical Records
(Learn more about the immigration medical exam here.)
- Form I-765: Work permit application form (Only needed if the spouse seeking visa wants to work in the United States)*
Note: Check out our guide for Form I-765.
- Form I-131 Travel permit application form (Only needed if the spouse seeking visa wants to travel internationally)*
Note: Learn more about Form I-131.
*Work and travel permit may take up to five months (or longer in some cases) to be approved
All forms can be downloaded from the USCIS website:
- Family sponsorship form I-130
- Supplemental information form I-130A
- Green card application form I-485
- Financial support form I-864
- Declaration of self-sufficiency form I-944
- Work permit application form I-765
- Travel permit application form I-131
Supporting Documents (Required and Optional)
Proof of U.S. Citizenship of the sponsoring spouse (choose one of the following):
- U.S. birth certificate;
- Valid U.S. passport;
- Naturalization Certificate;
- Certificate of Citizenship;
- Consular Report of Birth Abroad.
Proof of valid marriage (choose one of the following):
- Marriage certificate;
- Joint leases;
- Joint bank account statements;
- Photos of you together;
- Letters from friends and relatives proving your relationship.
- Passport photo of the spouse applying x2
Proof of termination of prior marriage(s) (Optional):
- a divorce decree;
- a death certificate of the other spouse;
- a certificate of annulment.
Proof of official name change (Optional):
- a marriage certificate;
- a court order of name change;
- adoption papers.
Mandatory Government Fees (if not listed, then the fee is not required)
Getting the Medical Exam
All spouses seeking a green card need to complete a medical exam. You can choose to complete the exam before you file your application and submit your exam results with your package, or you can choose to complete the exam after you have submitted your application and have your results sent to USCIS or bring it with you to your green card interview. Learn more about the immigration medical exam here.
Schedule an appointment with an USCIS-approved physician by using the USCIS find a doctor tool.
From your doctor, you will receive your results in a sealed envelope along with your vaccination records. Bring the entire envelope with you to your interview.
Step 2: Receive USCIS Receipt Notice Form I-797
This receipt notice from USCIS is to inform you that your application has been received, and you can now check your application status with the serial number on the receipt through USCIS official site.
Step 3: Attending your biometrics appointment
A month or so after you’ve submitted your application to USCIS, you will receive a notice of your biometric appointment. This appointment usually takes place at the nearest USCIS field office to you. This is the part where USCIS collects fingerprints and photographs of the spouse who is applying to conduct background and security checks, and the sponsoring spouse is not required to attend.
When attending your biometrics appointment, please be sure to bring:
- The original copy of your USCIS biometrics appointment notice
- Receipt letter of your filed application or petition
- Photo identification
Step 4: Attending Your Green Card Interview
Once USCIS has finished processing all your visa application materials, it will then transfer all those materials to your nearest USCIS field office. The field office will then send you an appointment notice with the scheduled time, date, and location of your interview which you and your spouse must attend.
This is also the final step of your application process! It may seem intimidating, but there are ways that can help reduce your stress by making sure you have an idea of what to prepare and expect during the interview. Find out more about what to prepare and expect with these resources:
Finally: Receiving your Spousal Visa (Green Card)
You will receive your spousal visa (green card) by mail after around two to three weeks of approval. With your green card, you will be able to work legally in the United States and travel internationally without the need for a work or travel permit.
You will receive one of the following types of the green card depending on how long you have been married to your U.S. citizen spouse at the time of your visa approval.
- Married for less than two years ⇒ CR1 (conditional green card) - this green card is only valid for two years. After two years, you and your spouse have to file the “remove the conditions” form together and have USCIS confirm the authenticity of the marriage before you receive a permanent green card.
- Married for more than two years ⇒ IR1 (immediate relative green card) - this green card is valid for 10 years and the process of renewal is usually relatively simple.
Tracking your application
- Online: you can check your case status via USCIS’s website with the receipt number that came with the Receipt Notice
- Phone: 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.
- Mail: USCIS will send out official notifications regarding your case, so make sure your mailing address is correct and reachable.
- In-Person: 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 an officer in person. However, this process can be more complicated than the aforementioned options.
If you’re ready to apply, VISA2US can guide you through every step of the marriage-based green card application process from the beginning to the end. Find out more about the services and packages we offer or get started today!