Marriage Green Card FAQs

Questions? We are here to help.

How do I apply for a green card for my spouse?

It depends on different situations. If you and your spouse are currently living in the U.S., and the spouse owns a valid visa, you can apply for Form I-485, together with the Form I-130, to obtain the marriage green card for your spouse. If your spouse lives outside the U.S., you may need to file I-130 for him/her, and he/she can decide whether to complete the application through consular processing or apply directly outside the U.S. It is suggested to contact us Visa2us directly for further consultation and see which works best for your case.

How long is the waiting time before I apply for a green card for my spouse?

Once the marriage takes effect, you and your spouse will then be eligible to apply for the marriage green card. The processing time usually takes roughly 10 months or more depending on different scenarios, therefore it is recommended that you and your spouse start the application as soon as possible.

What documents will I need to submit to get a marriage-based green card?

It depends on which forms you apply for (again, depending on your circumstances.)

Generally speaking, the below documents are required for most related forms: 

  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Financial documents
  • Assets Appraisals, if applicable
  • Proof of sponsor’s U.S. citizenship or permanent residence
  • Proof of lawful U.S. entry and status, if applicable
  • Police clearance certificate, if applicable
  • Prior-marriage termination papers, if applicable
  • Court, police, and prison records, if applicable
  • Military records, if applicable
  • Immigration violation records, if applicable
  • Medical examination document

You are welcome to discuss with our experienced attorneys specifically for your case and we will advise which documents are required.

When will the interview be scheduled?

After USCIS receives all the required documents, the confirmation (Form I-797) and biometrics appointment notice will be sent. After you complete the biometrics appointment, the interview notice including appointed date, time, location will be sent afterwards. The process usually takes a few months depending on different cases, particularly due to the increased workloads at USCIS, and the intentional slowing down process policies imposed by the current administration.

What will take place during the interview?

The purpose of the interview is to verify the submitted documents, discover new information, and thus determine the credibility of the applicants. Therefore, the interview may cover the below aspects:

  • The marriage is real
  • Has financial support
  • Hasn’t committed a crime
  • Hasn't defrauded the U.S. government
  • Hasn't been deported
  • Has no serious diseases

Concerning details and how to prepare the green card interview, please check out our Interview Guide.

What happens if my marriage-based green card is denied?

You may have the right to appeal the decision since an application may be denied for several reasons. If it’s due to reasons such as errors on the submitted forms, missing documents, insufficient financial assets, etc., you are free to discuss your particular circumstances with your independent attorney or refer to further information here (specific page for denial reasons.)

How do I prove my marriage is “bona fide”?

One of the factors influencing the result of your application is that your marriage is considered “bona fide.” To prove your marriage is “bona fide,” you may be asked to provide documents such as joint lease, joint bank statement, or photos or letters from friends or family members stating that your marriage is legitimate in addition to your marriage certificate.

Can I work in the U.S. while waiting for my green card?

You are permitted to continue working in the U.S. while applying for the green card if you already have a valid work visa (H-1B, L-1, etc.). If your foreign spouse wants to work during the application process, he/she can file Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) to obtain a work permit.

Where can I receive the latest information about the government legislation updates regarding green card applications?

You can refer to the monthly-updated Visa Bulletin, issued by the U.S. Department of State. The website lists the latest information regarding the green cards that can be moved forward, based on when the I-130 petition was originally filed. The visa bulletin exists because Congress limits the number of green cards that can be issued each year in certain categories.

How much does it cost to get a green card?

It varies cases by case. For example, government fees for the foreign spouse applying for the green card within the U.S. are $1,760, while for the spouse applying outside the U.S., $1,200. There are other costs such as fees for required medical examination, etc. Feel free to check out further details here.

What are the income requirements for a marriage visa?

The applicant must meet the specific income minimums to continue their marriage green card application. The applicant must have a U.S financial sponsor (usually the sponsoring spouse) who will file the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864.) The 2020 Minimum Annual Income Requirements for Most Sponsors is at least 125% of Federal Poverty Guidelines. The exact minimum requirement, in most cases, is $21,137 for a couple with no children or other dependents. Usually, the more people there are in your household, the higher your income will need to be to meet the requirements. For further information and criteria, please visit here.

What if my alien fiancé wants to come to the U.S. to get married? Which visa should he/she apply for?

In such cases, he/she should apply for a K-1 visa, also known as the “fiancé visa.” It is a temporary visa available to alien fiancé of U.S. citizens to come to the U.S. legally for the marriage purpose. The couple must get married within 90 days of the alien fiancé’s arrival in the U.S. A marriage visa, or here it refers to, the marriage green card, is available for spouses, living either within the U.S or abroad, to apply for permanent residence.

What is a Conditional Permanent Residence? What’s the difference(s) between the Permanent Residence?

If you and your spouse have been married for less than two years when your alien spouse becomes a permanent resident, he/she would receive a conditional permanent residence (CR-1 visa.) This is an additional check to prevent marriage fraud aiming to obtain solely immigration benefits. The visa is valid for 2 years, and you can file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, 90 days before your CR1 is about to expire and obtain a permanent green card. 

Can children of my alien spouse come with their parent beneficiary of the marriage visa petition?

Unmarried Children aging under 21 of your spouse may accompany their parents to immigrate to the United States. However, as the I-130 petitioner, you must file a separate petition for your spouse and each of her/his children. 

I want to help my 20-year-old daughter apply for a green card after I receive my marriage green card. What will happen if she turns 21 before her green card application is approved?

According to the “Child Status Protection Act,” your kid is still qualified to apply for the green card as long as the petition is filed before the kid turns 21. You can find the definition and further details of this act on USCIS website.

Can I visit my spouse during the green card application if I’m not currently staying in the U.S.?

Technically speaking, the foreign applicant can visit his/her spouse in the United States with a tourist visa; however, it is not recommended. The immigration officers often deny those entries upon learning the tourists’ pending green card application. Furthermore, such misleading intentions may jeopardize the following application.

Can I travel during my application for my Marriage Green card?

Yes, but you must apply for advance parole by filing Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, before you leave the U.S. There is no additional fee if you submit the form along with your I-485 packet. If not, the application fee is $575. Furthermore, such traveling may be asked for details during your green card application so make sure you keep the related documents for future preparation. Should you have any concerns regarding traveling after filing the green card application, contact us and meet your consultant attorneys.

How many Form I-130 can I file? 

Why should the petitioner of Form I-130 also file Form I-864, Affidavit of Support? What is the form about?

Apart from sponsoring the beneficiary to apply for a green card, the petitioner must financially support the beneficiary. An affidavit of support is a legally binding document; signing the form, you guarantee the U.S. government that the immigrant, here, your spouse will not become a public charge to live dependently on the U.S. government benefits. 

What is the “Public Charge” rule?

The “public charge” rule was implemented by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to reduce the number of eligible individuals for green cards and temporary visas, through the redefinition of who is more likely to live dependently on government benefits, or will be, in the future. If the updates are imposed, this policy could also affect people who already have green cards.