To get permanent residence status for the spouse to live in the USA, It may take a little bit longer from start to end to finish the whole process of seeking and getting that status from USCIS.
But, planning and making use of the other temporary options made available by USCIS, make your life relatively comfortable until you receive an actual green card.
To bring in none citizen spouse to live in the United States, seeking a green card is the option available for sponsoring spouse, and it's one of the most prolonged approval processes with USCIS. It may take from anywhere between 13 to 4o months from start to end.
And depends on individuals cases, their path to permanent residence status may take many months of anxious waiting and involving multiple stages of the approval process. In some cases, you may have to deal with host country consular processing.
Usually, individuals options available and process to follow depends on the following —
- Petitioner status (Sponsoring spouse) - whether they are U.S. Citizen or permanent residence through the holder of green card.
- Beneficiary (husband or wife) - Spouse, who seeking permanent residence current residency status, whether they are already living inside the USA.
That said, there are four distinct pathways made possible based on sponsor and beneficiary. And any eligible candidate's situation must match one of the following.
- Petitioner - U.S. Citizen, Beneficiary - Living in the USA
- Petitioner - U.S. Citizen, Beneficiary - Living outside the USA
- Petitioner - Green card holder, Beneficiary - Living in the USA
- Petitioner - Green card holder, Beneficiary - Living outside the USA
Case 1: Both Sponsor (Citizen) and Beneficiary in the USA
The fact that both of them living inside the USA, processing time it will take considerably cut down. Thanks to the "Concurrent Filing" of I-130 - Petition for Alien Relative and Applying for the green card using I-485 - Application to adjust the status.
Apart from these two main required application form, you have to submit some additional Forms and documentation to support your sponsorship.
- I-864 - Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA, which is to prove that you have the financial capability to support your spouse and doesn't become "Public Charge" to the government.
- I-693 - Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, which you have to complete even before sending the application package and sealed examination result provided by the USCIS-approved doctor, must be included in your package to USCIS.
- You can find the list of available approved doctors in your area here.
Optionally, if your spouse wants to work and travel while the application is pending with USCIS. Then, you may choose to apply for these forms along with your main application for the green card.
- I-765 - Application for Employment Authorization
- I-131 - Application for Travel Document, This is basically to request for an advance parole document.
- An advance parole document authorizes you to appear at a port-of-entry to seek parole into the United States after temporary travel abroad.
- If you are traveling abroad without parole, while the case is pending with USCIS, then your case considered as abandoned.
The case filed with USCIS, then what is next?
Depends on the number of applications you have included in your package, you will receive separate "Receipt Notice" for each one in a few weeks.
Using the receipt number, you can track their status in USCIS portal online. Usually, advance parole and work permit (EAD) will take a few months to get approved, and processing time varies based on the USCIS processing center.
Next, Biometric appointment —
Biometric is the beginning of the verification process by USCIS on the spouse seeking a permanent residence. In about month time, USCIS will send the separate notice with date and time to appear for biometric.
And it's expected that beneficiary to appear for fingerprint collection and taking a photograph. The sponsor doesn't have to present in this.
Interview in USCIS field office —
Once USCIS completes the background and security verification, they will transfer your case to the local field office for face to face interview. Expect notification from USCIS to appear for an interview with date and time.
The interview is the last step in the significant hurdles involving marriage-based green card processing. And this is the first time a USCIS officer can field questions directly to sponsor and beneficiary, to assess the credibility of your petition and relationship status.
So, prepare well and have your document organized to face this momentous milestone, if an officer is convinced about your legitimate and legal relationship and validity of supporting documents. Then he or she may approve your application then and there.
Receiving your green card —
You will receive a physical green card after a few weeks in the mail. With that status, you are having unlimited mobility and unrestricted employment opportunity in the USA.
In case you are holding an EAD or Travel document (parole), then at this point, they became obsolete.
How much does it cost?
Here is the breakup of the cost involved in processing individual applications or obtaining services from professionals in the case of medical examination.
|#||Forms and Services||Fees||Mandatory||Optional|
|1||I-130, Petition for Spouse||$535||Yes|
|2||I-485, GC Application||$1140||Yes - Living in USA|
|3||I-864, Financial Documents||$120||Yes|
|4||Biometrics||$80||Yes - Living in USA|
|5||Medicals (Guidelines only)||$300||Yes|
|6||State Dept Processing Fees||$200||Yes - Living Abroad|
|7||Immigration Attorney||$1000 and above||Yes - Recommended|
These are the straight forward cost; you have to pay government agencies like USCIS while processing green card applications. Additionally, you will have to find the attorney to support your filing processing from start to end, which may cost you a couple of thousand dollars max.
So far, we have covered the path for sponsor and beneficiary living inside the USA, and the sponsor is U.S. citizen.
Here is the link for other scenarios. Choose one match for your situation.
Marriage-based green card processing general documents required for most of the cases —
|3||Financial Documents (Bank, Tax, W2)||Yes|
|4||Sponsor Proof of Eligibility (Citizen or GC)||Yes|
|5||Proof legal and admissible entry - I-94||Yes|
|6||Any previous visa pages copy||Yes|
|7||Local Lawenforcement clearance||Yes|
|8||Previous incident records with Law enforcement||Yes|
|9||Termination Papars of Prior Marriage||Yes|
Here are the other individual scenarios that match for some family.