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

How long does it take to get a marriage green card? Tadeo & Silva Immigration Attorneys can provide answers to this question and more. Call for an appointment.

Author: Massiel Silva Tadeo, Founder, Tadeo & Silva

Attorney Massiel Silva Tadeo is a partner and owner at The Tadeo & Silva Law Firm. She specializes in removal (deportation) defense, family immigration, and hardship waivers. Updated on: January 09, 2024.

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When You Marry a US Citizen, How Long Does it Take to Get a Marriage Green Card?

According to immigration statistics, every year, thousands of Americans wed partners from other countries. As a result, the spouse born outside of the United States needs to apply for what is known as a marriage-based green card. A marriage green card is among many green card categories available.

A marriage-based green card or IR6 green card may be obtained by foreign nationals who marry US citizens or lawful permanent residents. But how long does the process to get a green card typically take?

The answer to that would depend on the circumstances. Once the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) gets all it needs, the process might take several months.

Also, the foreign spouse of a US citizen might expect to wait longer to get permanent residence status if they are currently residing outside of the United States.

This article discusses the specifics of getting a green card by marrying in the United States. We also provide a concise summary of every step and the average time that USCIS spends on each step.

What are the Factors that Can Influence the Marriage-Based Green Card Timeline?

The average time required to get a green card via marriage is between 7 and 15 months. Usually, obtaining a marriage green card relies on three primary criteria that affect the processing duration.

In most cases, the timing for obtaining a marriage green card will be affected by the following:

The Legal Status of the Petitioning Spouse

The petitioning relative must be a United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident to file a marriage green card application. The lawful status of the petitioning relative and other variables will affect the green card application process. Additionally, the spouse of a green card holder will have to go through a different process than the spouse of an American citizen.

The Location of the Alien Spouse

The location of the spouse seeking a green card seeking green card can also affect the green card timeline. Alien spouses outside the United States have a different application route than those in the United States.

USCIS Service Center

Lastly, the processing time for a marriage-based green card will vary depending on the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field office processing the application and the volume of applications they are handling at the time.

Since numerous other variables affect the processing time for a green card, completing papers correctly can play a significant role regardless of your category. For instance, you may need to fulfill some USCIS tax return requirements.

A lawyer can assist you in preparing and submitting the necessary documents for a green card application.

Immigrant Spouse Residing in the United States and Married to an American Citizen

Marriage-based green cards are processed the quickest for candidates living in the United States and married to United States citizens.

This is because the green card interview and approval take 1-2 months, while the application process takes 9-11 months. You can also submit your visa immigrant petition along with the adjustment of status application (Form I-485) to USCIS concurrently, along with supporting documentation and filing fees.

Usually, complete processing takes four steps, as follows.

Green Card Application

First, the US citizen spouse will file a petition for their foreign spouse for marriage. The petition typically includes:

  • Form I-130A, Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary
  • Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative
  • Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
  • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA
  • Form I-131, Application for Travel Document (optional)
  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (optional)

In 2-3 weeks, the USCIS will send a receipt notification with case numbers for your Form I-130 application. USCIS Case Status lets you check your case status online.

Biometrics Appointment

USCIS will schedule biometrics appointments for the foreign spouse after receiving your immigrant visa application, usually 3-5 weeks before your marriage interview.

Marriage Green Card Interview

USCIS will issue you and your spouse a green card interview notification 4–12 months after applying.

Green Card Delivery

Your green card should arrive 2-3 weeks after the interview, although it may take longer.

Foreign Born Spouse Married to a Citizen Spouse and Resides Abroad

Consular processing is the USCIS green card application process for spouses of US citizens who reside abroad.

Filing Form I-130

Forms I-130 and I-130A must be filed with the accompanying documents to receive a USCIS receipt notice within 2-3 weeks.

The National Visa Center Processing

After acceptance, USCIS will send the case to the National Visa Center (NVC) and then to the US embassy or consulate. This can take 3 – 5 months.

Medical Examination

It is mandatory that you have a physical examination conducted by a doctor on the State Department’s list of recognized practitioners in the country where the foreign spouse lives before your interview.

Interview at US Embassy/Consulate

An interview typically takes place one month after you receive the letter. The consular officer will then decide on your application for an immigrant visa, and you will be issued a visa to enter the country if successful.

If you have been married to your US citizen spouse for two years or less, you will receive conditional permanent residence once the consular officer approves your application.

Green Card Delivery

The foreign spouse will receive their marriage green card within six months after arrival.

The entire process usually takes 11-17 months.

Foreign Spouse Resides in the United States, and Their Spouse Is a Green Card Holder

In this case, you must apply for adjustment of status from USCIS.

Form I-130 Processing

Green card holders must file Forms I-130 and I-130A along with supporting documents. Form I-130 processing takes USCIS 11–15 months.

Visa Number Availability

When USCIS accepts Form I-130, the spouse seeking a green card must wait for a visa to become available under the F2A visa category. The United States Department of State has a visa bulletin that lists its availability.

Form I-485 Processing

A spouse who receives the visa number can apply with USCIS for an adjustment of status by filling out Form I-485 and the accompanying documentation. Approval can take 9 – 11 months before I-485 interview.

Interview and Approval for Green Card

USCIS will arrange an interview within a month after completing your green card application. Both spouses must attend the interview.

The petitioner must have a medical checkup from a USCIS-approved doctor in the interview applicant’s country of residence.

Green Card Delivery

After approval, your green card will come by mail in 2–3 weeks.

The entire process takes 29–38 months.

The Applicant Is Married to a US Green Card Holder and Resides Overseas

To apply for a marriage-based visa outside the US, you must submit Form DS-260, the “Immigrant Visa Electronic Application.”

Form I-130 Processing

For approval, the petitioner (green card holder) must submit Form I-130 and Form I-130A, Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiaries.

Visa Number Availability (F2A category)

USCIS transfers your I-130 petition to NVC after approval.

A spouse of a green card holder must wait for the availability of an F2A visa and then await the assignment of a visa number.

Foreign spouse waiting times differ per nation. As such, it’s best to consult the visa bulletin.

NVC Processing

Foreign spouses may apply for green cards using visa numbers. NVC takes 3-5 months to process all forms and documentation.

Interview at US Embassy/Consulate

A foreign spouse will interview at a US Embassy or Consulate in their country after 1-2 months.

Green Card Delivery

The spouses residing abroad will obtain the actual marriage green card to their US address within six months of arrival.

What factors can cause delays in the marriage green card process?

A green card can be obtained by marrying a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. Though the process is complex and lengthy, it is worthwhile. A marriage green card process is often complex and subject to various factors that can cause delays.

One such factor that can cause delays is the accuracy and completeness of the application. Missing or incorrect information, such as errors on the marriage certificate, can significantly extend the green card processing time. In cases where the green card holder lives abroad, consular processing can add to the timeline due to additional administrative steps.

The workload and efficiency of USCIS impact the marriage green card timeline. During periods of high application volumes, the average processing time can increase and lead to longer waiting periods. The priority date and the timing of concurrent filing can further influence how quickly the process moves forward.

In the case of a sponsoring spouse, where the spouse is a citizen or a lawful permanent resident, the process might extend slightly in terms of estimated processing time and requirements. For instance, a marriage visa application with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident might be processed more quickly than one with a legal permanent resident.

Delays occur due to complicationsduring the green card process, such as issues identified during the medical exam or the need to submit additional evidence. These scenarios can extend the timeline by weeks or even months.

Are there any ways to expedite a marriage green card application?

The green card process is generally standardized with an estimated processing time, but there are a few strategies that can potentially help expedite the process. By ensuring that there are no mistakes in the application process and keeping things straight, you can get done with the process more quickly.

Working with an experienced immigration lawyer can further streamline the process by assisting you in the application submission and documentation.

Tadeo & Silva Immigration Attorneys Are at Your Service


Obtaining a green card via marriage can be challenging, but consulting with an experienced immigration attorney can simplify the process.

We can assist you in getting a green card or with any other immigration matters you may have. We can also answer your questions, such as “how will divorce or separation affect my immigration status?”

Call to schedule an appointment now to find out how we can help you realize your American dream!

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