Married to a U.S. Citizen and Living in the U.S. – Checklist & Processing Times

Married to a us citizen and living in the US

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Married to a U.S. citizen and living in the U.S.? Get the checklist of all required immigration forms, the application steps and the processing time.

It takes 10-13 months to get a marriage-based green card if both spouses are in the U.S.

In this guide we will be discussing the processing time of a marriage based green card for a spouse of a U.S. citizen, living in the U.S.

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

We have created a detailed guide, entailing the total processing time you can expect while filing a marriage based green card. You can check it out here.

The total processing time for obtaining a marriage based green card when both spouses are in the U.S. ranges from 10-13 months:

  • Application processing takes about 9-11 months, and
  • Interview scheduling procedure and approval takes 1-2 months

Estimated timeline

Application Processing StepsEstimated Timeline
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 Interview4-12 months after filing the green card application
Step 4. EAD (Employment Authorization Card) and Travel Document (Optional)
  • EAD – 2-10 months after filing the application.
  • Travel document – 10-12 months after filing the application.
Step 5. Green Card Arrival2-3 weeks after the interview

You can also check out the detailed timeline for each of the USCIS application centers here.

Step 1. Green Card Application

The first step in the marriage green card application is filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

This step also includes applying for permanent residence using Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

A foreign spouse of a U.S. citizen living in the U.S. can combine the two-step procedure into one and submit all required immigration forms to USCIS in a single package.

This process is also known as “Concurrent filing”.

The complete list of all immigration forms a spouse of a U.S. citizen should submit to USCIS, along with supporting documents:

Step 2. USCIS Receipt Notice 

Once you have completed and mailed the complete spousal green card application package to the appropriate USCIS office, you should receive a ‘receipt notice’ from the USCIS within a period of 2-3 weeks.

This receipt notice confirms that USCIS has successfully received your application.

It also contains a set of case numbers (“receipt number”), which you can use to track your case status on USCIS website.

Estimated Time: Receipt notice issued around 2 weeks after mailing the application to USCIS.

Step 3. Biometrics Appointment

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

Such an appointment is usually scheduled at USCIS field office, nearest to your physical address. 

The biometrics is approximately a 30-mins procedure where USCIS takes the applicant’s fingerprints, photograph, and/or signature. 

Using these information, the government agency performs a detailed background check of the foreign applicant, confirming their identity.

The applicant’s appointment notice includes the date, time and location for the appointment. 

The applicant needs to show the biometrics appointment notice and an official government ID.

The sponsoring spouse is not required to attend this appointment.

You can learn more about what all happens during the biometrics appointment.

If USCIS needs more information or document(s) to process your application, it will send you a “Request for Evidence” (RFE), typically within 3–10 months.

Estimated Time: Biometrics Appointment Notice received about a month after USCIS receives your application.

Step 4. EAD Card and Travel Document (Optional)

If the applicant had filed the applications for Travel and Work Permits (Forms I-765 and I-131), to work in the U.S. and travel internationally, then the applicant receives

Estimated Time: 

  • EAD Card arrives 2-10 months after filing the application.
  • Travel document arrives 10-12 months after filing the application.

Step 5. Green Card Interview

After completing all background checks and reviewing your application, USCIS forwards your case file to the nearest USCIS office.

This local office then schedules an in-person interview and mails an interview notice. 

This interview notice contains the time, date, and location of the interview.

Both, the applicant spouse as well as the sponsor spouse, are required to attend the marriage green card interview.

Estimated Time: About 4-12 months after filing the green card application the USCIS sends you an interview notice.

Step 6. Green Card Arrival

If the interview went well and the USCIS officer determines your marriage is bona fide, the application for permanent residence will be approved.

The foreign spouse will receive a lawful permanent resident card by mail in approximately 2-3 weeks after the interview.

Step 7. Conditional Green Card

The type of green card you receive will depend on how long you and your spouse have been married on the day you were given permanent residence.

If You’ve Been Married for Less than 2 Years

If you and your foreign spouse have been married for less than 2 years at the time of issuance of a green card, the permanent resident card issued to your immigrant spouse will be valid for a period of 2 years

This temporary green card is called a ‘Conditional resident green card’ or CR-1.

To obtain an “unconditional” 10-years green card you and your spouse must file jointly Form I-751.

This process is called “removing conditions on residence”.

After successfully removing conditions on residence, you will receive a permanent resident card, valid for 10 years.

Form I-751 must be filed 90 days prior to the expiration of the permanent resident card (of 2 years validity).

In reviewing your I-751 application USCIS will have one more opportunity to determine if the marriage is authentic.

If You’ve Been Married for Over 2 Years

If you and your foreign spouse have been married for 2 years or more on the day you were given permanent residence, you will receive a green card valid for 10 years. 

You don’t need to remove conditions on your permanent residence if you received a 10-years green card.

Related links:

Form I-485 Processing Time

Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative

Form I-130A, Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary

Form I-864, Affidavit of Support

Form I-765, Employment Authorization Document

Form I-131, Travel Document

Form I-693, Medical Examination

USCIS Case Processing Times

USCIS Marriage Interview, What to Expect and How to Prepare