A marriage green card is a type of U.S. permanent residence card issued to the spouse of a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. It allows the foreign-born spouse to live and work in the U.S. permanently. The process of obtaining a marriage green card typically involves the U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse sponsoring the foreign-born spouse’s application and providing evidence of their marriage and the bona fides of the relationship.
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If you (the foreign national spouse) are married to a U.S. Citizen or green card holder but live outside of the U.S., you will need to apply for a CR1/IR1 immigrant spouse visa through a consular processing process. Spouse visas are processed by the local U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your country of residence. If you currently reside in the U.S., you must go through the Adjustment of Status (AOS) process, which has its own separate requirements.
How do I get a marriage green card?
Below is a step-by-step summary of the CR1/IR1 visa application process:
- Check that you are eligible to receive a green card. You’ll need to be able to show that you’re in a genuine marriage. Your spouse also should be 18 years or older and “domiciled” in the United States.
- The U.S. citizen sponsor — your spouse — must complete and file Form I-130 (the “Petition for Alien Relative”).
- A – You wait for USCIS to process your Form I-130 Petition. This usually takes 4-8 months but can take longer, depending on USCIS backlogs and the accuracy/completeness of your application.
- B – If you are married to a green card holder, check the Visa Bulletin to see whether a green card is available. You can skip this step if you’re married to a U.S. citizen; otherwise, you may need to wait for a visa number to be available. The wait time depends on where you were born.
- When the I-130 is approved, you will be notified that the National Visa Center (NVC) has received your application. You must pay the necessary fees and submit some additional paperwork. The NVC will also instruct you to complete Form DS-260 (the “Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration”). This is the actual green card application where you will answer questions about yourself, such as your work, familial, and educational history.
- Once NVC processes the additional paperwork, your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate should notify you about your immigrant visa interview.
- Before attending your interview, you must get a medical exam with an Embassy-approved physician. You can check the Embassy’s website for a list of acceptable doctors.
- When it is time for your interview, you must be prepared with your current, unexpired passport. You will be guided on what else to bring and not bring to the interview. You can also contact the Embassy for additional items you need. You will be asked questions about your application under oath at the interview.
- If the Consulate officer has no further inquiries, you can expect to hear back within about a week of your interview. If approved, your visa will be affixed to your passport, and you will receive a sealed envelope with your documents. Do not open or unseal this envelope. The immigration officer at the U.S. border upon your entry is the only one who should open it.
If you are married to a green card holder, check the Visa Bulletin to see whether a green card is available. You can skip this step if you’re married to a U.S. citizen; otherwise, you may need to wait for a visa number to be available. The wait time depends on where you were born.
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