How to get a green card through marriage
A marriage green card allows the spouse of a U.S. citizen or green card holder to live and work anywhere in the United States. A green card holder will have “permanent resident” status until they decide — if they wish — to apply for U.S citizenship, for which they become eligible after three years.
Step 1: Establishing the marriage relationship (Form I-130)
The first step in the process of getting a green card through marriage is to submit Form I-130 (officially called the “Petition for Alien Relative”) to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The main purpose of the I-130 form, along with supporting documents, is to establish that a valid marriage exists.
The spouse filing the I-130 is called the “petitioner” or “sponsor.” This is the spouse who is a U.S. citizen or current green card holder. The spouse seeking a green card is called the “beneficiary” or “green card applicant.”
Step 2: Establishing the spouse’s eligibility for a green card
The U.S. government follows two different processes to determine a spouse’s eligibility for a marriage-based green card. The right process depends on where that spouse currently lives:
FOR GREEN CARD APPLICANTS LIVING IN THE UNITED STATES
If the spouse seeking a green card physically lives in the United States, the next step is to file Form I-485 (officially called the “Adjustment of Status” application). The I-485 is filed with USCIS, and its primary purpose is to establish that the spouse is eligible for a green card.
Step 3: Attending the green card interview and awaiting approval
The final step in the marriage-based green card process is the green card interview. The interviewing officer’s primary goal is to assess the authenticity of the marriage. Questions can focus on the couple’s relationship history, as well as their daily activities and future plans together. If the interviewing officer is sufficiently convinced that the marriage is not fraudulent, they will approve the spouse for a green card.
The location of the interview — in addition to whether the sponsoring spouse must also attend — depends on where the spouse seeking a green card currently lives:
DOES YOUR SPOUSE LIVE IN THE UNITED STATES?
A spouse applying for a green card from within the United States will attend their interview with the sponsoring spouse at their local USCIS office. The physical green card will typically arrive by mail within 2-3 weeks of case approval.
DOES YOUR SPOUSE LIVE ABROAD?
A spouse applying for a green card from abroad will attend an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. The sponsoring spouse does not attend this interview.
The spouse seeking a green card will then receive a visa stamp in their passport, allowing for travel to the United States. The USCIS Immigrant Fee ($220) must be paid online before a physical green card can be issued. (USCIS recommends paying this fee before the spouse leaves for the United States.) The green card is typically mailed to the couple’s U.S. address within 2-3 weeks of the spouse’s arrival.
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Getting a green card through marriage is generally a three-step process:
This guide will walk you through each step, with more detailed information along the way.
Greenbroad makes it easy to complete your marriage green card application. With our online tool, all the required forms for your situation become simple questions you can answer in a short amount of time — typically under two hours. Afterward, we run your application through 4 separate quality checks to ensure the highest accuracy before it’s filed. Get started now!
Everything you need to apply for a green card through marriage
If you are a spouse applying for a green card from within the United States, your complete Greenbroad filing package will include all of the following forms that you’ll need to work, travel, and ultimately obtain your green card:
If you are a spouse applying for a green card from abroad, your initial Greenbroad filing package for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will include all of the following required forms: