How Long Does it Take to Get a Marriage Green Card?

Obtaining a marriage based Green Card is a significant milestone for many couples who wish to live and work in the United States. However, one crucial question usually comes up: "How long does it take?” While on average it takes 6 to 16 months, the real answer is: it depends. Understanding the timelines for your specific needs is vital to plan and manage expectations. We also know that becoming familiar with possible challenges and seeking professional help when needed will allow for a smoother navigation through the process.

Keep in mind that although USCIS's workload can cause delays in processing marriage-based Green Card applications, applicants can take steps to mitigate the impact. Using online services, seeking professional legal assistance, and staying informed about processing times helps steer through the application process more efficiently and effectively. It's key to identify which process you need (consular processing versus adjustment of status) so you can pay close attention to USCIS requirements for each and ensure all documents are properly prepared and organized for the process fitting your needs.

Partnering with platforms like Alvva can help speed up the application process and prevent delays due to incomplete or incorrect forms. You're not alone on your journey toward residency in the United States — here at Alvva, we want to make sure you have all the information you need and the peace of mind you deserve.

Factors That Affect Your Processing Time

While there may be certain aspects and factors of the immigration process that are beyond our control, there are still steps we can take to speed up the process and avoid unnecessary delays in our marriage-based Green Card application. Understanding these factors allows for more effectively managing expectations. Here are some factors to consider before starting your application:

  1. USCIS Workload: The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) handles thousands of immigration applications daily. With such a high volume of applications, this can result in a backlog of cases and therefore longer processing times. Staying informed of any USCIS notifications and updates is vital to know the status of your application at all times and to respond or provide any additional required information in a timely manner. Delays may occur due to requests to submit additional documents, administrative processing, or other unforeseen circumstances.
  2. Adjustment of Status: An adjustment of status is required for visa applicant who currently reside in the U.S. with their spouse. Through this process, eligible individuals can change their immigration status without the need to leave the country. Upon filing the adjustment of status application, eligible applicants can also request an employment authorization document (EAD), vs. with Consular Processing where an applicant must wait until they have entered the country. Though the time range for some cases is between 9-36 months, in general, the process takes between 6 to 12 months.
  3. Consular Processing: Consular processing is necessary for visa applicants outside of the United States who need a visa to enter the country, who are in the United States but do not qualify for adjustment of status, or who simply prefer to apply for an immigrant visa from their country of origin. The turnaround time is broad, ranging from a few months to several years depending on the visa type, demand, and country. Some cases can take from 9 to 36 months in total for consular processing, depending on the complexity of the case, but in general, the process takes from 12 to 16 months.
  4. Petitioner's Immigration Status: Another important factor is whether the petitioner is a citizen or a permanent resident. If they are a permanent resident, it may take longer to process the application because the visa category available to this group (F2A) is lower than for citizens with IR1. There is no limit for IR1 visas, and therefore, there is the possibility to expedite the petition.

Each category has specific eligibility requirements and benefits, so it is crucial to evaluate which one aligns with your goals and circumstances. Once you understand which visa is best for you, the next step is to determine your eligibility for each option. Take the time to carefully review the requirements and assess your own qualifications. That said, processing timelines should not be your only consideration when deciding how to proceed with a marriage-based Green Card. For more information, and other factors to consider, check out our article on fiancé vs. marriage visa types.

Challenges and Tips To Prevent Longer Processing Times

Here are a few challenges you may encounter during your process and guidance on how to overcome them to avoid longer processing times.

Challenge 1: Language Barriers: Consider seeking help through professional services, online platforms, or using resources that provide guidance in your native language if English is not your main language. This can avoid any mistakes that can affect your application during your process.

Challenge 2: Budget: Before you start your application, make sure you look into all related fees involved in the marriage based Green Card process. These fees may include the USCIS filing fee, biometric fee, travel related costs for interviews, and any additional fees associated with medical examinations and translations. Keep in mind that if you decide to work with an immigration lawyer or an online platform to help you with your forms, those services may have an additional cost on top of the mentioned fees.

Challenge 3: Plan Ahead: Stay informed about current USCIS requirements and forms needed for your specific needs and gather all required documents before you start your process. Gathering the required documentation, such as marriage certificates, birth certificates, and evidence of a bona fide marriage can be time-consuming and may prevent you from advancing in your immigration process.

It is important to note that the processing time for a marriage based Green Card can vary from case to case depending on many factors and everyone’s individual needs. Though there are a lot of factors you may not have any control over, there are a few things you can do to to prevent any speed bumps along the way during your process. One of those is considering using an online platform like Alvva. Alvva can tackle these challenges with you and help optimize your process. Alvva’s expert team can guide you through the process in your native language, whether it be Spanish or English, ensuring your USCIS forms are accurately filled out and increasing your chances of success backed by our Approval Guarantee, all for an affordable price. Check your eligibility and get started with Alvva today.