Your spouse can become a US citizen. It will be the start of a brand-new life for them. They will get access to all the opportunities and privileges of citizenship through a green card upon marriage. But what is the timetable for marriage-based green cards?

Various factors determine how long it takes to get a green card through marriage to a US citizen. Once the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) gets all it requires, the marriage green card timeline will take a minimum of 9-11 months. When you're prepared, we can assist you with creating the documentation for your Marriage Green Card application. Just post a job and get quotes in 24 hours.

You cannot automatically become a US citizen by marrying or getting married to one. This means that being the spouse of a US citizen offers the prospect of getting a green card. However, you must fulfill the criteria before filing for naturalization.

How long does it take to get a marriage green card?

The table below offers the summarized marriage green card timeline based on different scenarios:

# Scenario Timeline Reason
1 Spouse is US Citizen + You live in the US 35-52 months This will include establishing the validity of the marriage through form I-130 and filling out the green card application.
2 Spouse is US Citizen + You live ABROAD 11-17 months This will involve establishing the validity of the marriage, which will take 6-12 months, the green card application process, and the interview.
3 Spouse is a US Green Card holder + You live in the US 29-38 months Time taken to establish the validity of the marriage, the application process, as well as the interview and approval.
4 Spouse is a US Green Card holder + You live ABROAD 27-46 months Time is taken to establish the validity of the marriage relationship, waiting for the availability of a green card, the application process, as well as the interview and approval.


Several variables impact the Green Card application and approval process, including where you apply, when you apply, and whether the individual sponsoring your immigrant partner for a marriage Green Card is a citizen of the United States or a lawful permanent resident. 

Adjustment of Status (AOS) vs Consular Processing

You have to understand the main differences between AOS and Consular processing in very simple terms.

What is Adjustment of Status?

Adjustment of Status is used when applying for a green card from inside the United States.

What is Consular Processing?

Consular processing is the application process for U.S. visas when applying from outside of the United States.

Adjustment of Status (concurrent filing)

US Citizen Marrying Someone Living in the US

  • Step 1: Form I-130 - The sponsor (US spouse) will be required to submit a petition (Form I-130); this petition will inform the USCIS that he or she intends to assist their spouse to immigrate to the US.
  • Step 2: Submit a formal application - In a scenario where the USCIS approves the sponsor's petition (in step 1), the beneficiary (the non-US resident) will be required to submit an official application for the green card.
  • Step 3: Concurrent Filling - The US spouse petition and the application made by the immigrant will be filed concurrently.
  • Step 4: Fingerprints & photos - The USCIS will then call the immigrant for fingerprinting and to take their photographs.
  • Step 5: Marriage Green Card Interview - The USCIS will then call in the couple to participate in an interview; in this step, the USCIS officer will ask the couple various questions to ascertain the validity of their marriage and the eligibility of the immigrant to receive a green card.
  • Step 6: Approval - Approval of the green card
  • Step 7: Marriage Green Card Arrival - Receiving the actual green card through the mail.

US Green Card Holder Marrying Someone Living in the US

You can seek permanent resident status if you marry someone who already possesses legal permanent resident status (often known as a "green card"). You can apply to USCIS to change your status from temporary visitor to permanent residence if you're already in the country and meet the requirements.

The first step is for your partner to submit a petition to US Citizenship and Immigration Services on your behalf. Its objective is to show that you are married and your partner has a green card. Before allowing you to apply for permanent residency, the government must be certain of those facts.

The petition is submitted by your partner using USCIS Form I-130. The USCIS will often approve the application within a month to seven months. You can move on to the next phase after receiving the I-130 approval notification from USCIS.


Regrettably, USCIS won't email you to let you know when the waiting period is over, and you can apply to change your status. That will require independent research on your part.

Visit the USCIS Web page with filing dates first. There, USCIS provides a link to a page with a chart you must consult to decide when to apply. The hyperlink will be visible directly below the heading "Current Month's Adjustment of Status Filing Charts."

The chart you'll encounter is either titled "Application Final Action Dates for Family-Sponsored Preference Cases" or "Dates for Filing Family-Sponsored Visa Applications." The USCIS takes these from the monthly revised Visa Bulletin of the State Department.

Consular Processing

US Citizen Marrying Someone Living ABROAD

  • Step 1: Filling Form I-130 - This form establishes the relationship between the sponsoring spouse and the eligible partner living in another country; This should be filled out by a U.S. citizen, and the processing time will range from a few months to several years. The Form I-130 will include two supporting documents: the petition for an alien relative and an additional information form for the spouse beneficiary.
  • Step 2: USCIS receipt notice - After filing the I-130 form, you will receive a receipt notice from the USCIS confirming that they have received your application.
  • Step 3: National visa center processing - After the approval of form I-130, the USCIS will transfer your case to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC ensures that all the necessary documents have been received and that the alien spouse is ready for an interview at a US consulate.
  • Step 4: Immigrant visa application - After completing your DS-260 form online (and printing it), you will be required to attend a visa interview at the US consulate/Embassy.
  • Step 5: Affidavit of Support - This step will involve filling out form I-864, Affidavit of Support, and other relevant supporting documents.
  • Step 6: Pre-Interview Requirements - After 1-3 months, the USCIS will mail an interview appointment letter containing all the details regarding your appointment, the date, time, and the location of the interview.
  • Step 7: Green Card Interview - The sponsoring spouse doesn't have to go to the interview. However, if the consulate office approves your immigrant visa application, you will be given an immigrant visa which permits you to enter the U.S. within 6 months.
  • Step 8: Green Card Arrival - Only after arriving in the US will the USCIS mail the green card to you. Note that your visa will only be valid for 6 months, and you are required to enter the U.S. within this period.

US Green Card Holder Marrying Someone Living ABROAD

  • Step 1: Sponsorship - The first step is to submit Form I-130, often known as the "Petition for Alien Relative," to the US Department of Homeland Security's USCIS. This form's primary objective is to show the presence of a legal marriage. The "sponsor" or "petitioner" is the partner who files this I-130 form; This is the partner of the American citizen with a green card. The "applicant" or "beneficiary" is the partner applying for a green card.
  • You should mail your I-130 package to the specified USCIS address once it is ready. The USCIS will then send you an official reception notice by mail, usually within 2 weeks. USCIS will mail you a Request for Evidence (RFE) within two to three months if they require additional documents or data to complete processing your documents.
  • Step 2: Waiting Period - The NVC permanent residency application bundle cannot be presented to a spouse of a US green card holder (permanent resident) until the State Department certifies that a green card is available based on annual caps. The ability to file an NVC package will depend on the dates listed in the State Department's monthly visa bulletin. The typical wait period is between one and two months after the I-130 is authorized. However, this might change within a few months of the spouse's place of origin.
  • Step 3: Green Card Application - The NVC considers the green card application package after the State Department confirms that a green card is available and eventually evaluates if the spouse is prepared for interviewing at a foreign US embassy or consulate.
  • Step 4: Pre-Interview Requirements - The NVC then sends your paperwork to the American consulate handling green card applications in the nation of the applicant's spouse. There are still a few requirements that must be met before the interview can take place. They include a fingerprinting or biometrics appointment, medical examination and passport delivery.
  • Step 5: Interview and Approval - The final significant phase in the green card application procedure is the interview, which can be the most nerve-wracking and scary. By anticipating what will happen and putting together a well-organized file to bring to the interview, spouses can help to lessen this tension. After obtaining a notice of appointment with the precise time, date, and location, a spouse who lives abroad will travel to the interview at a US consulate in their native country. The sponsored spouse does not attend this interview.

Marriage Visa Timeline FAQs

Is it possible to switch from Consular Processing to Adjustment of Status?

Yes, it is possible to switch from Consular Processing to Adjustment of Status. However, you should ensure that you are eligible for an immigrant visa and then file for the form I-485 with the USCIS.

What Happens IF your Marriage-Based Green Card is Denied?

If that happens, your spouse could be subject to deportation proceedings following the rejection. You will be required to testify there and, if you'd like, summon witnesses and submit the full application to an immigration court. Maybe you can convince the judge to still issue the green card.

Do You Automatically Get a Green Card When You Marry a US Citizen?

Marriage to a US citizen doesn't guarantee a green card. You still have to follow the specific marriage green card application process.

Can Same-Sex Couples Apply For A Marriage Visa?

Yes, same-sex couples can apply for a marriage visa if the marriage is legal in the US

When will your marriage green card be ready?

The USCIS cannot grant you a green card until one is available, regardless of when you are permitted to submit your adjustment application. You should not be concerned about any additional delays if the USCIS is utilizing the "Application Final Action Dates" chart since the green card is already accessible before you apply. The "Dates for Filing Family-Sponsored Visa Applications" chart, however, will allow you to submit your application before when the green card will be made available. If so, the USCIS is likely to delay approving your adjustment request until the green card is ready.

If you need help with a marriage green card, just post a job for free and get quotes in 24h. Our attorneys are reputable and highly experienced in immigration law and are available to answer any questions you have.