Marriage Based Green Cards

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Get A Green Card Through Marriage

Congrats on your marriage! As they say, first comes love (check), then comes marriage (check), now you should be applying for the green card.
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While you embark on your new journey together, the Attorney handles your green card application.

The Attorney at ST Law Office, PLLC is experienced with handling both marriage based green cards through consular processing (in the foreign country) and adjustment of status (in the U.S.). ST Law can help you determine your eligibility and help you with your filing.

Who is Eligible for a marriage based green card?

You are eligible for a green card if:

  • You are the spouse of a U.S. citizen.
  • You are the spouse of a U.S. Permanent Resident.

Your child or children may be eligible to get a green card as well. There are three ways your child can be eligible to receive a green card.

  1. If you share a child with the U.S. citizen spouse and the child is under the age of 21 years and unmarried.
  2. If you married a U.S. citizen, your child is under 21 years and unmarried and was under the age of 18 years on the date of your marriage to the U.S. citizen.
  3. If you married a U.S. permanent resident (green card holder) and your child is under 21 years and unmarried.

What to Expect During the Marriage Based Application Process for the Green card

The U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident (green card holder) must first sponsor you by filing an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). You must prove eligibility by submitting required documentation and evidence of the spousal relationship. The location of the final interview depends on where you are as the foreign spouse.

If you are in the United States, you may be eligible for adjustment of status without returning to your home country. If you are currently outside of the United States, you will likely attend a final interview at the embassy in your home country. This is called consular processing.

About the Adjustment of Status Process

Generally, the Adjustment of status application process requires the submission of the Form I-130 petition and the Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status. Other forms are required. Such forms include the Form I-864 Affidavit of Support and the Form I-693 Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record.

You also have the option to apply for a work permit through the Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization and for permission to travel outside of the U.S. through the Form I-131 Application for Travel Document.

After you’ve filed the required documents, the USCIS will send a notice of acceptance by mail, email or text. After the USCIS accepts the application, You will receive an appointment notice to do biometrics (fingerprinting). At the appointment, they will take your photo and fingerprints for the background check. The final interview will follow about 9 months to 1 year after acceptance if you are married to a U.S. citizen. The time is longer if you are married to a green card holder. Note: if you are married to a green ard holder, you must be maintaining legal status at the time you apply to adjust status.

At the interview, the USCIS officer will examine the forms and evidence. The spouse is usually required to attend the final interview with you. The officer will ask you and your spouse questions about your relationship and your background. The officer will usually inform you of the decision at the interview. The officer may need more information. In this case, the officer will issue a request for evidence and give you some time to provide the documents. You will likely receive the decision after providing the document or information. Read more about the AOS interview experience.

Before applying for the green card through the adjustment of status process you should make sure this is the right process for you. You should identify some important red flags before submitting the application. For example, you should identify any bars to an adjustment of status and admissibility problems. Such issues will affect your eligibility and require the careful attention of the Attorney.

Consular Processing

If you are outside of the United States and the USCIS approves the Form I-130 petition, you will go through consular processing and a final interview at the U.S. embassy in your home country.

First, the USCIS sends the approved petition to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC then corresponds with you to provide the fee payments for the Affidavit of Support and the immigrant visa application. Then you’ll need to complete the Form DS-260 Immigrant Visa Application, which will be sent to the embassy in preparation for the final interview.

After submission of your documents to the NVC, the embassy in your home country schedules the final interview and provides you with instructions to do the medical examination and obtain a police certificate in your country. The officer will review all documentation and your application at the final interview and inform you of the decision at the interview.

The Affidavit of Support

The Form I-864 Affidavit of Support is the contract which the sponsor (the U.S. spouse) signs to guarantee that they will financially support you for the next 10 years in the United States or until you become a U.S. citizen. The Affidavit of Support must be submitted with the Adjustment Of Status application. In consular processing, the NVC will request it after the USCIS approval of the initial I-130 petition.

It is important to properly complete and submit the Affidavit of Support (AOS) with a statement of your household size, important evidence of income, assets and filed taxes. Failure to do this will result in a denial of your application in both the AOS process and consular processing.

The attorney at ST Law is also a tax attorney who focuses on the tax issues related to immigrants and foreign assets. She focuses on the more complex issues related to the Affidavit of Support.

Processing Times

Processing times depends on whether you are married to a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. If married to a U.S. citizen, you do not have to wait for a visa number to become available. Therefore the processing time varies from one (1) year to 18 months. Processing times also depend on whether or not there are additional requests for evidence and whether there is a backlog of applications.

If you are married to a U.S. permanent resident, then the wait time is longer, about two to three years. Processing times also depends on your particular circumstances and how quickly you respond to requests from the immigration service and NVC. The ensure the fastest possible time, ST Law expeditiously responds to requests from the service. Here’s a breakdown of the processing times:

Timeline if married to a U.S. citizen:

  1. Form I-130 Petition and I-485 AOS acceptance – 2 weeks
  2. Biometrics appointment- 2 to 3 weeks after acceptance
  3. Final interview at a local USCIS office or the embassy- 12 to 18 months

Timeline if married to a Permanent Resident:

  1. I-130 Petition acceptance – 2 weeks
  2. I-130 Petition decision – 9 months
  3. I-130 Approved Petition transfer to NVC after a visa number becomes available – 18 months to 2 years
  4. NVC request for fee payments and Affidavit of Support – 4 to 6 weeks after approved decision transfered to NVC.
  5. NVC transfer to embassy – 4 to 6 weeks after receiving all requested documents and fees.
  6. Embassy interview schedule – 4 to 6 weeks after receiving documents from the NVC.

Other issues that may affect eligibility

Other factors may affect your eligibility. You should book your consultation with ST Law ASAP to determine whether such issues will affect you. Such issues include:

  • Being inadmissible
  • Being subject to one or more bars to adjustment of status

What is the cost to get a green card through marriage?

ST Law charges a flat fee based the work that will need to be done. The fee depends on the time to complete the case, your particular needs and the issues involved. ST Law charges a flat initial consultation fee of $300, to provide detailed legal advice for up to an hour. If you choose to retain the attorney for full representation, you will receive a flat fee quote at the consultation.

In addition to the legal fee, You will spend on filing fees and expenses. Below is the estimated cost of filing fees and associated expenses.

Adjustment of Status Filing Cost

I-130 Petition: $535

I-485 Application: $1140 (but if under 14 years old and filing with at least 1 parent, then $750)

Affidavit of Support: $0

Biometrics Fee: $85

Medical Examination: $250 – $700

Consular Processing Filing Cost

I-130 Petition: $535

NVC fee and Affidavit of Support fee: $120

DS-260 Immigrant Visa Application: $325

Medical Examination: $250 – $700

You should budget for other related costs associated with the process such as the cost for a police report in preparation of the final interview at the embassy and travel costs.

About ST Law’s Marriage Based Service

For a flat fee, the Attorney will work closely with you to provide full representation during the application process. The Attorney will:

  • Handle any related immigration legal issues that arise.
  • Prepare compelling evidence.
  • File the necessary documents.
  • Communicate with the immigration service, embassy and/or the National Visa Center.
  • Complete any applicable follow up documents or request for evidence.
  • Do interview preparation.
  • Attend the final interview.

The managing attorney at ST Law Office, Sharifa Tharpe, personally handles each case with care.

Attorney Tharpe carefully evaluates the facts in each case to prepare clients for the application process and to ensure the best outcome. Her hard work has yielded excellent results. All of her marriage based cases have been approved. Read more about Sharifa Tharpe.

The Attorney has the skill to quickly identify potential problems and to deal with it accordingly. Hiring Attorney Tharpe means you will avoid devastating mistakes. Once you pay the flat legal fee, you won’t have to worry about more hourly fees or more legal bills. The Attorney will be a phone call away.

Here’s what one client had to say about the marriage based green card service:

Client Testimonial - Venezuela

Schedule your consultation now – Saturday consultations available!

You can access the Attorney’s calendar to book and confirm your initial consultation right now.

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Additional Resources:

Are you the Fiance of a U.S. citizen? Maybe the Fiance Visa is for you.

Want to know about other ways to get a green card? Check out ST Law’s employment and family based immigration page.

Want to get updates in immigration law? Check out ST Law’s Roundup Blog

Marriage Based Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)