The United States of America is a huge country with over three hundred million inhabitants. For this reason, it is not surprising that every year thousands of permanent residents of the United States of America marry someone who is from another part of the world and does not have a residence permit in the USA. And these people want to settle permanently in the USA so that they can start their life together with a resident of America whom they are married to.
Apparently, this should not be a long or complicated procedure because every foreigner who has married a permanent resident has the right to apply for something called a marriage-based green card. You must have heard of the green card many times. But what complicates this process is there are many fake marriages which only goal is obtaining green card and making money. This is exactly what makes the situation more difficult for all those real married couples who just want to live together in the USA. Don’t worry though, in the end everything will turn out well. You just have to be patient, because it takes time. How long does it take to get a green card through marriage as well as other important information, you can read below.
Proofs of eligibility
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services commonly referred to as USCIS requires that your marriage meet several conditions for you to be eligible to apply for a green card.
Legally registered marriage – Your marriage must be formalized in the United States or another state whose marriage is recognized by the United States. Thus it will be considered valid.
Your spouse is an American citizen or green card holder – To be eligible for a marriage-based green card your spouse does not have to be a citizen, it is enough that it is a green card holder. But if he or she is a USA citizen you will have priority. You must have all the necessary documents proving citizenship or a green card proof.
You must have proofs of togetherness – It is not uncommon for foreigners to pay citizens money in exchange for a fake marriage that will bring them permanent residency. This is of course forbidden and then USCIS agents will investigate whether your is fake or real one. You need to have different evidence that you live together and that you generally build a life together the way spouses do.
That you are both unmarried – Under US law it is legal to have only one marriage at a time, so if one of you has already had one or more in the past he or she must present divorce papers.
How long does it take?
The first thing you need to know is that there is no set period of time during which your application must be processed and then accepted or rejected. Time frame is very flexible, so you never know how long the whole process will take. Many factors will affect the length of time until your application is processed. Some of the most important factors that will have a major impact on how long you wait are whether you are married in the US or in another state. Next factor which is important is whether he or she is a citizen or a green card holder. Also, not every citizen has a completely identical status, but makes a difference whether that citizenship was acquired at birth or later acquired.
All of this will affect the length of your wait, but be prepared that it is very unlikely that you will wait less than a year. It is also not common to wait longer than 3 years, so we could say that the usual time frame is between one and three years, but we repeat that there is no guarantee. You have to be patient. It will also matter if the two of you now live in the USA or somewhere else, the location of the spouse who is a USA citizen is especially important.
The application process
In order to better predict the time frame, we will explain to you what the whole application process looks like. It is always best to be ready in advance, because then you will get all the necessary documents in time, which will certainly shorten the process. Also be prepared for different costs during this process. At visa2us.com you can find out approximately how much money you will spend on a marriage green card.
1. Form I-130
Completing Form I-130 is the first step to be taken. And this is done by the spouse who is a citizen or green card holder. It is up to him or her to submit all the necessary documents and fill out a form to guarantee that he or she is a sponsor to the person he or she guarantees for. Since it is a spouse, then it is stated that it is an immediate relative which is better then when it is someone who is not that close to you. Then it is necessary to provide them with the marriage certificate, joint photos, bank accounts and the like. The more such things, the better for you and you can expect them to process this first step faster when they have more proofs. In any case, on average, it takes USCIS between half a year and a year to approve.
2. Green Card application
Once your previous step is approved, the next destination is the National Visa Center. They will gather all the necessary information so that they can issue a green card later. This part is usually a bit shorter and NVC completes the whole job in a little less than half a year on average. Once they have processed all the documents, they send them to the embassy, where you will fill out Form I-864 and pay all the costs. You will also fill out Form DS-260 which you will do online. You will probably spend another month or so on these few things.
First, the non-citizen spouse will be invited to the embassy in his / her country for an interview, where it is necessary to bring a medical report with him/her. Many personal questions will be asked during the interview to determine if the marriage is real. If all goes well, entry into the USA will be allowed. After that, it will be necessary to fill in a few more forms and finally an interview with USCIS in the USA.
Then you will have to wait another year or so and if your request is approved congratulations! You have become a green card holder. If you want to become a citizen, you will be able to do so after a few years through the naturalization process and it has nothing to do with your spouse.