Law Office of Asel Mukambetova

How Long Does it Take to Get a Marriage Based Green Card?

How Long Does it Take to Get a Marriage Based Green Card

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Last updated: April 3, 2024.

By Asel Mukambetova, Esq. · Columbia Law School · Licensed immigration attorney

In general, it can take anywhere from 10 months to over 3 years to apply for and receive a marriage based green card.

An overview of the basic timeline is provided below.

If you’re married to And currently live inProcessing wait time
U.S. Citizen
  • U.S.
10-13 months
  • Overseas
14-17 months
Green Card Holder
  • U.S.
29-38 months
  • Overseas
23-32 months

The issuance of a permanent residence card requires processing by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

The USCIS processing times can vary depending upon where the petitioner and foreign spouse live in the United States.

A great deal of this wait period typically depends upon the following factors:

Immigrant Spouse Living in the U.S. and Married to a U.S. Citizen

If you’re the spouse applying for a marriage based green card and living in the U.S., while your spouse is a U.S. citizen, the time for your successful receival of a U.S. green card might not take as long as the other cases.

Total estimated time

As mentioned in the table above, in your case, you’ll have to dedicate a wait period of 10-13 months to receive your spousal green card.

  • The application processing takes about 9-11 months,
  • Interview scheduling procedure and approval takes 1-2 months.
  • Sometimes interviews are waived by USCIS

Applicants like you can apply for a marriage based green card through a USCIS procedure called “Concurrent Filing“.

This means you can save plenty of time by combining the two step procedure into one “concurrent filing”, which you’ll send to the USCIS in a single package.

Step 1. Green Card Application, or the USCIS Processing

In order to initiate the process, the petitioner (U.S. citizen) files a marriage petition for the foreign spouse. The sponsor and applicant must submit the following forms, along with their supporting documents.

Once the marriage application and fees are received, USCIS issues a receipt notice, confirming that it has received your application. 

This receipt contains a set of case numbers, which you can use to track your case status online: USCIS Case Status.

Receipt Notice Issued: About 2-3 weeks from the date complete application is sent to USCIS.

Step 2. Biometrics Appointment

About 3-5 weeks (roughly a month) after the USCIS receives your application package, it issues a biometrics appointment notice for the foreign spouse.

This allows USCIS to perform a background check of the foreign spouse. 

Once this is successfully done, the next step is scheduling a marriage interview at USCIS field office.

Step 3. Green Card Interview

Around 9-12 months after filing the green card application, USCIS sends you an appointment notice, with time, date, and location of an interview. 

Both spouses are required to attend the interview.

Step 4. Green Card Arrival

In approximately 2-3 weeks from the date of interview, the green card arrives in the mail of the applicant spouse. It can take longer in some cases.

Estimated timeline

Application Processing Steps

How long

Step 1. USCIS Receipt Notice issued2 weeks from the date of green card application filing
Step 2. Biometrics Appointment3-5 weeks or about 1 month from the date of filing the green card application
Step 3. Green Card Interview9-12 months after filing the green card application
Step 4. Green Card Arrival1-2 months after completing the interview.

Immigrant Spouse Living Overseas and Married to a U.S. Citizen

If you’re the spouse applying for a marriage based green card and living outside the U.S., while your spouse is a U.S. citizen, then you’ll apply through a USCIS procedure called “Consular Processing“. 

Total estimated time

The estimated time to receive your green card will be from 14-17 months.

  • Establishing the marriage relationship: 11-12 months
  • NVC application, to apply for green card: 1-3 months
  • Visa interview: 1-2 months

Step 1. Form I-130 Processing  

Briefly, the sponsor must submit 2 forms, along with supporting documents:

Once you’ve sent the completed I-130 package to USCIS, you’ll receive USCIS Receipt Notice, around 2-3 weeks later.

Step 2. National Visa Center Processing

After USCIS approves Form I-130, the case is transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC)

After receiving the case from USCIS, the NVC starts processing it and 1-3 months later, forwards the case to the U.S. embassy or the consulate in the applicant spouse’s country of residence.

Step 3. Interview at U.S. Embassy or Consulate

Once all the items for the second part of the immigrant visa application are completed and filed, you will receive the scheduled interview appointment letter containing the appointment date, time and location, 1-2 months later.

About 1 month after receiving the interview letter, the applicant attends the interview. 

If a consular officer approves your immigrant visa application, you will be issued an immigrant visa that allows you to enter the U.S.

Step 4. Green Card Arrival

Typically within 3 months after the applicant spouse arrives in the United States, the green card is mailed to the couple’s U.S. address.

Estimated timeline

Applicant Steps (in order)How long
Step 1. Form I-130 Processing11-12 months
Step 2. National Visa Center Processing1-3 months
Step 3. Interview at U.S. Embassy or Consulate1-2 months
Step 4. Green Card Arrival3 months after arrival in the U.S.

Immigrant Spouse Living in the U.S. and Married to a Green Card Holder

If you’re the spouse applying for a marriage based green card and living in the U.S., while your spouse is a lawfully permanent resident, then you’ll apply through a USCIS procedure called “Adjustment of Status“.

Keep in mind, that as a spouse of a lawful permanent resident, you are required to continuously maintain another nonimmigrant status while Form I-130 is being processed.

You can apply for adjustment of status in the U.S. only if all requirements below are met:

  • Form I-130 is filed
  • Your Form I-130 priority date is current for F2A category
  • You are in a lawful nonimmigrant status when you file Form I-485

Total estimated time

The estimated time to receive your green card will be from 29-38 months.

  • Establishing the marriage relationship: 11-15 months
  • Waiting for green card availability in the visa bulletin: 8-10 months
  • Application for green card (Form I-485): 9-11 months
  • Visa interview and approval: 1-2 months

Step 1. Form I-130 Processing

In order to apply for a marriage based green card, the petitioner (green card holder) must submit the Form I-130 package, to establish a relationship between the spouse.

The I-130 package includes these 2 forms, along with their supporting documents:

It takes USCIS approximately 11-15 months to approve your Form I-130.

Step 2. Visa number availability (F2A category)

Once USCIS approves your Form I-130, the spouse seeking the green card must need to wait until the visa number for category F2A becomes available.

To check the current visa number availability, check the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Bulletin.

Learn more: How to Read the Visa Bulletin for Family-Based Immigrants

Step 3. Form I-485 processing

If the visa number is available, the spouse seeking the green card can file Form I-485, Adjustment of Status

Once the I-485 filing package (along with all the required documents) is successfully submitted, USCIS takes another 9-11 months to process it.

Step 4. Green Card Interview

Once your green card application processing is completed by USCIS, it will send you a scheduled interview appointment notice for you and your spouse to attend, containing the appointment date, time and location.

About one month after obtaining the notice, the interview date is scheduled. 

Some interviews may be waived by USCIS.

Step 5. Green Card Arrival

The physical green card will arrive by mail, typically within 2–3 weeks of case approval.

Estimated timeline

Applicant Steps (in order)How long
Step 1. USCIS processing of established marriage relationship11-15 months
Step 2. Visa number availability (F2A category)Varies
Step 3. Form I-485 processing9-11 months
Step 4. Green card interview1-2 months
Step 5. Green Card Arrival2-3 weeks after the interview

Immigrant Spouse Living Overseas and Married to a Green Card Holder

If you’re the spouse applying for a marriage based green card and living outside the U.S., while your spouse is a lawfully permanent resident of the U.S., then you’ll apply through a USCIS procedure called ‘Consular Processing’.

Estimated Time: The estimated time to receive your green card will be from 23-32 months.

  • Establishing the marriage relationship: 11-15 months
  • Waiting for green card availability in the visa bulletin: 8-10 months
  • NVC application, to apply for an immigrant visa: 3-5 months
  • Visa interview and approval: 1-2 months

Step 1. Form I-130 Processing

The petitioner (green card holder) must submit the Form I-130 package, to establish a relationship between the spouse.

The I-130 package includes these 2 forms, along with their supporting documents:

  • Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relatives
  • Form I-130A, Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary

After submitting Form I-130 package to USCIS, your form will be approved in 12-13 months.

Step 2. Visa number availability (F2A category)

After approving the I-130 petition, USCIS transfers the case to the National Visa Center (NVC). 

Once the NVC identifies the case, the spouses of U.S. green card holders need to wait until visa number in F2A category becomes available, as stated in the Visa Bulletin

For foreign spouses, the wait time can vary, depending upon the foreign spouse’s country of birth.

Step 3. NVC Processing

Once the visa number is available, the applicant can apply for a green card with NVC.

Once all the necessary forms and documents are submitted, NVC will typically make a decision within 3-5 months.  

Step 4. Interview at U.S. Embassy or Consulate

1-2 months later, a spouse living abroad will attend an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country, after receiving an appointment notice with the exact time, date and location. 

The sponsoring spouse does not attend this interview.

Step 5. Green Card Arrival

Within 6 months after the applicant spouse arrives in the United States, the physical green card is then mailed to the couple’s U.S. address.

Estimated timeline

Applicant Steps (in order)How long
Step 1. Form I-130 Processing12-13 months
Step 2. Visa number availability (F2A category)Varies
Step 3. NVC Processing3-5 months
Step 4. Interview at U.S. Embassy or Consulate1-2 months
Step 5. Green Card ArrivalWithin 6 months after arrival in the U.S.

Learn more:

Marriage Green Card – Checklist, Forms and Processing Time