Eligibility for a Green Card Through Marriage
In order for your spouse to get a green card through marriage, you must be either a U.S. citizen or green card holder.
How to Obtain A Green Card Through Marriage For Your Spouse
As a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States, you may help your spouse become a lawful permanent resident of the United States by obtaining a green card through marriage.
You begin the process of obtaining a green card through marriage for your spouse by filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. This form establishes the marital relationship that exists between you and your spouse. The form is available at www.uscis.gov. Sometimes the I-130 can be filed together with an application for permanent residence (Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status). This is discussed below.
In order to obtain green card through marriage for your spouse, you must show that you are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and evidence relating to the bona fides of your marriage.
Filing a Form I-130 and proving your marital relationship gives your spouse a place in line with others waiting to immigrate from the same country or region based on the same type of relationship. When your spouse reaches the front of the line, he or she may be eligible to immigrate after passing the required background checks and meeting requirements for a green card through marriage.
For example: If you are a permanent resident and file a petition for your spouse, if USCIS approves it, your petition gives her a place in line with spouses from the same country category who are also married to permanent residents.
Your spouse’s place in line will be based on the date you file your petition. So there is an advantage to beginning the process of obtaining a green card through marriage for your spouse as soon as possible. There is no waiting period for spouses of U.S. citizens.
How Long Will It Take Before My Spouse Can Immigrate?
The law gives special consideration to spouses of U.S. citizens.
- There is no waiting list.
- The U.S. Department of State will invite them to apply for an immigrant visa as soon as USCIS approves your I-130 petition.
If your petition has been approved, and your spouse is currently in the United States after making a legal entry (and
they meet certain other requirements), she/he may be able to file an
application with USCIS to adjust to permanent resident status, i.e., apply for her/his green card through marriage in the U.S .
For spouses of permanent residents (green card holders), the combination of high demand and the limits set by law on how many people can immigrate each year means your spouse may have to wait several years “in line” while petitions that were filed before his/hers are processed. When your spouse reaches the “front of the line,” the U.S. Department of State contacts your spouse and invites him or her to apply for an immigrant visa. Current wait times for visa categories including green card through marriage are available under “Visa Bulletin” on the State Department’s website at www.travel.state.gov/visa.
What If I Began The Process for a Green Card Through Marriage When I was a Permanent Resident, but I am now a U.S. citizen?
If you become a U.S. citizen while your spouse is waiting for a visa, you can upgrade your spouse’s visa classification and advance the processing of that petition by notifying the appropriate agency of your naturalization. When you are a U.S. citizen, your husband or wife will have visas immediately available to them.