How Long Does It Take to Get a Green Card Through Marriage?

Obtaining a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen is a multi-step process that involves several stages, each with its own timeline. The process is notably different for spouses already residing in the U.S. compared to those living abroad. Although exact timing can vary widely due to individual circumstances, here is a general outline of what to expect. More about our firm here.

Filing the Initial Petition: I-130: The U.S. citizen spouse needs to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This is the first step in the green card process and aims to establish a valid marital relationship. The form comes with a set of required documents like marriage certificates, photos, and proof of U.S. citizenship.

Timeframe: After filing, it usually takes 5-12 months for USCIS to review and make a decision. This timing can vary based on the current workload of USCIS.

Adjustment of Status: I-485 (If Spouse is in the U.S.) – If the foreign spouse is already in the U.S., they can file Form I-485, Adjustment of Status, concurrently with the I-130, or wait until the I-130 is approved. This application is to change the foreign spouse’s status to that of a permanent resident.

Timeframe: The average processing time is around 8-14 months, although this can vary. After filing the I-485, the foreign spouse can receive a work permit typically within 5 months.

Consular Processing (If Spouse is Outside the U.S.)

If the foreign spouse is residing abroad, they will need to go through consular processing. This usually starts after the I-130 petition is approved and involves an interview at a U.S. consulate in the foreign spouse’s home country.

Timeframe: After I-130 approval, expect another 3-5 months for scheduling the consular interview. Once the interview is successfully completed, the visa is usually issued within a few weeks. Additional information.

Marriage-Based Green Card Interview

Regardless of whether the foreign spouse is in the U.S. or abroad, a green card interview will be conducted. This is a crucial step to verify the legitimacy of the marriage and other details in the application.

Timeframe: Usually, the interview is scheduled within a few months after filing the I-485 or receiving an appointment for consular processing.

Receipt of Green Card

After successfully passing the interview and completing all other formalities, the green card is finally issued.

Timeframe: If inside the U.S., the green card is mailed within 2-4 weeks after the approval of the I-485 form. For those outside the U.S., the green card will be issued upon entry into the U.S. with an immigrant visa.


Overall, the process can take anywhere from a year to even two years or more, depending on various factors such as the service center processing your application, the completeness of your documents, and any potential delays (e.g., request for additional evidence). While these are general guidelines, it’s essential to consult with an immigration attorney to understand the specifics of your case.