Step by Step Guide On Marriage to a US Citizen While Residing in the United States
If your spouse already resides in the United States, he or she will need to adjust his or her immigration status to permanent residence. It is important that your spouse is in legal immigration status when the application package is submitted and during the entire time the application is pending. The entire process should take about a year or perhaps a bit longer.
Following is a step-by-step guide, written from the point of view of the sponsor:
You must complete and sign Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) and Form I-130A (Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary). It is you who must sign and file these forms, not your spouse.
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative
Your spouse completes and signs Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status).
You complete and sign Form I-864 (the Affidavit of Support, proving you have access to sufficient financial resources to support your spouse in the US without public assistance).
Your spouse completes and signs Form I-765 (work permit) if he/she intends to work in the United States while the permanent residence application is pending.
Your spouse completes and signs for I-131 (travel permit) if he/she plans to travel outside the United States while the permanent residence application is pending.
Your spouse submits to a medical exam from a “civil surgeon” (a USCIS-approved doctor). The cost will be about $200, paid to the doctor, and the doctor will issue Form I-693 in a sealed envelope. The seal must remain unbroken.
Prepare all supporting documents required by the instructions for the forms you file, including proof of your US citizenship, proof of your spouse’s nationality, your marriage certificate, proof of the non-fraudulent nature of your relationship, a divorce document if either of you was previously married, your tax returns and other financial documents, your spouse’s most recent Form I-94 (proof of legal entry to the US), a copy of your spouse’s US visa, four passport-style photos (two of you and two of your spouse) and a cover letter (optional), etc.
Prepare the filing fees ($535 for Form I-130; $1,140 for Form I-485 and $85 for biometrics, for a total of $1,760). You can pay by check, money order or (by filing Form G-1450), credit/debit card.
Mail the complete application package to the appropriate USCIS address based on your state of residence.
Wait about two weeks to receive receipt numbers from the USCIS for each of forms I-130, I-130A, and I-485 (and for I-765/I-131 if these forms were submitted).
Wait about a month after you submit your applications to receive a date and location for your spouse’s biometrics appointment. It will probably take place at a USCIS office near you.
Your spouse must attend the biometrics appointment. He or she will be fingerprinted and photographed, and certain security and background checks will be undertaken based on this information. Your presence will not be required.
Respond to a USCIS Request for Evidence, if you receive one. This document requests missing or additional evidence that is necessary to process the applications. You may not receive one at all, but if you do, it will probably arrive two or three months after the application package is submitted.
Wait about five months after the applications are submitted to receive approval (or denial) of the work permit and travel permit applications if these were submitted in the first place.
Wait for the USCIS to send you the date and time for the green card interview at the nearest USCIS office. You must attend this interview together with your spouse, although you may be interviewed separately. The USCIS will inform you of what documentation you need to bring with you to the interview. If your interview is successful, your spouse’s application might be approved immediately. It is also possible that some time will elapse between the interview and the approval.
If you have been married for two years, your spouse’s green card will be marked “IR1”, which means that it is unconditional. If you have been married for less than two years, the green card will be marked “CR1”, which means that it is conditional and it will expire in two years.
Notify the USCIS if your mailing address changes.
If your spouse’s green card is marked CR1, the USCIS will notify you of another interview that you must attend together with your spouse, to remove the condition on your spouse’s green card. The interview will probably be held not long before your spouse’s green card expires.
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