What is a Green Card Marriage?

If you’ve recently gotten married – congratulations! Now comes the exciting bit of deciding how to build a future together. If you and your spouse on planning on living permanently in the United States, you may be interested in learning more about obtaining a Green Card through marriage for your spouse.

A Green Card through marriage allows the spouse of a U.S. citizen (or Green Card holder) to live and work anywhere in the U.S. A Green Card holder has “permanent resident” status until they decide to apply for U.S. citizenship three years later if they wish. If you or your spouse are considering applying for a marriage based Green Card, then keep scrolling. We’ll cover the benefits of applying for a Green Card through marriage and the U.S. Green Card Marriage Process.

Benefits of Applying For Green Card Through Marriage

People worldwide frequently apply for U.S. Green Cards because of the opportunities for entrepreneurship and success that the country offers them. However, due to the United States’ reasonably strict Green Card and Visa requirements, obtaining a U.S. Green Card can be difficult.

The benefits of holding a Green Card include:

  • You can travel in and out of the U.S. easier
  • If you decide to study in the U.S., you will be charged the national fees instead of international fees
  • You can sponsor certain relatives for visas or Green Cards
  • You can apply for U.S. citizenship after five years

A marriage based Green Card is generally seen as more beneficial than other types of Green Cards because of the relative ease of applying for the spouse and the relatively short processing time. Unlike some other Green Card visas, obtaining a Green Card by marriage takes roughly 9-36 months. For other Green Card visas, the processing times can take two years or more – especially if you are a citizen of Mexico, China, the Philippines, or India. Not only that, a person who holds a marriage based Green Card can then apply for U.S. citizenship after living and working in the U.S. for three years as opposed to five.

U.S. Green Card Marriage Process

The first step when applying for a marriage based Green Card is to submit Form I-130 to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The purpose of this form, and supporting documents, is to establish the legitimacy of your marriage. USICS will then send the sponsoring spouse an official “receipt notice” in the mail. If the USCIS needs more information, they will send the sponsoring spouse a Request for Evidence (RFE). Once that has been returned to USCIS, they will typically decide on the application within 7-15 months.

You will then need to file Form I-485. If your spouse is a U.S. citizen, you can file both Form I-130 and I-485 at the same time. However, if your spouse is a U.S. Green Card holder, the I-485 filing package can’t be submitted to USCIS until they determine if a Green Card is available (based on annual caps). The wait time is around 1.5 years, depending on the home country of the spouse seeking a marriage based Green Card.  If your spouse lives abroad, the next step will be to file an application package with the National Visa Center(NVC).

Finally, the spouse that is applying will need to attend a Green Card Interview. If you and your spouse live inside the U.S., you will both attend this interview at your local USCIS office. If your spouse lives abroad, they will attend their interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate.

The immigration system in the United States is very complex and constantly evolving. We would always recommend speaking with an immigration lawyer if you’re unsure about any part of the visa application process to avoid unnecessary waiting times or fees. Contact the experienced professional at Leiva Law Firm to discuss your specific immigration needs today.