From Start to End Pathway to Get Marriage-Based Green Card — When Sponsor Green Card Holder and Beneficiary Living Abroad
When the sponsor is not the U.S citizen, this takes away some of the benefits enjoyed when a citizen's family is seeking a similar visa.
In the absence of a "Concurrent filing" option, wait time involved for visa availability, and compound that with "Consular Processing" in the home country, making this one of the most prolonged time-consuming exercise to obtain a marriage-based green card.
Each step must be processed sequentially and, consequently, add a little bit more to the overall timeline.
This column will cover the specific case matching the petitioner and beneficiary residence status while seeking this immigration approval.
- Sponsor is a Permanent residence with Green Card
- The beneficiary is living abroad.
Processing Steps —
No matter where the beneficiary currently lives, the first step of this process involves sponsoring your partner through "I-130 - Petition for Allien Relative". And in this step, you are validating the legitimacy of the marriage with USCIS.
Once you correctly filed I-130 and mailed to USCIS mailing address. You may receive the receipt notice in about two weeks, confirming that they received your package. You can track the processing status using the receipt number in the USCIS portal.
Then, the USCIS process usually takes about seven to ten months to decide your application, whether to approve or not.
In-between Waiting Period —
Now, assuming that you have approved a petition for the I-130 application provided by USCIS. The next step of those remaining processes facilitated by the National Visa Center (NVC) in spouse home country.
But before you can start the next step, there is a waiting period for visa availability.
Since the sponsoring spouse is not a U.S citizen, the beneficiary has to wait for visa availability dictated by the USA legal immigration law. USCIS will release a monthly visa bulletin, which highlights the country-specific current visa availability and where they are right now with processing backlog applications.
In-between waiting period, from I-130 approved to before you can file a green card application usually takes about ten months.
What to Expect Next —
You can expect that USCIS transfer your case to the local National Visa Center (NVC). From them, you will start receiving a notification about "Consular Processing" and the rest of the process to complete before appearing for an interview with the local embassy or consulate in your country.
NVC will assign a case number, which will be your reference going forward for the rest of the processing.
The interview with spouse country embassy/consulate should involve three steps process.
- DS-161 - "Online Choice of Address and Agent." With that, you are informing the state department about how to communicate with your spouse for further processing
- DS-161 is online and easy to process. Once NVC handled the application, you will receive a notification to pay for the State department processing fee and processing financial support form, which comes together $445, and you can pay the fees online.
- Once your payment is processed, then you can start the actual "Immigration Application for your spouse using - DS-260."
- NVC will have to process your case package with all the supporting documents collected from applicants and sponsors. And validate for eligibility and authentication before transferring to the local consulate for an interview.
Appearing for an Interview —
In addition to submitting documents, there are few pre-interview requirements that a spouse has to complete.
- Completing Medical Examination
- Biometric and fingerprinting with local visa application processing center.
In all the cases, an Interview is the final major hurdle to overcome. Prepare well and have your supporting document organized. And if a counselor convinced about your relationship and materials furnished to support your case. He or she will immediately grant a visa for legal entry into the United States.
Eligibility to Travel —
With a visa stamped in the spouse's passport, he/she can seek entry into the USA. Once reached here inside the USA, you can apply for a physical green card from USCIS, which is going to cost $220.
How much time and money does this cost?
The overall process may take anywhere from 10 to 20 months and cost you direct fees to the government and medical examination to the tune of $1400. Note, this does not include any external service you may arrange with an immigration attorney. And. You should plan for $3000 expenditure from start to end.
You can find the detailed breakup of costs and list of documents to consider for most of the cases —