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Marriage Green Card Application Timeline (11/2019)

November 2019 Timeline: Marriage Green Card Application

Updated on Nov 01, 2019

A spouse green card application currently takes between 10 months and 3 years, depending on your type of application. To see all the steps involved in the application process, and how long it takes, select the timeline applicable to your case:

I'm married to a:

and I live:

For applicants who are married to a U.S. citizen and currently live in the U.S, you will apply through a USCIS procedure called "Concurrent Filing". Receiving a green card currently takes:

11 – 14 Months

Here is the application timeline:

Submit All Application Materials in One Package

The sponsor and applicant submit the following forms, along with supporting documents:

  • Form I-130 — Petition for Alien Relatives
  • Form I-130A — Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary
  • Form I-485 — Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
  • Form I-864 — Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA
  • Form I-765 — Application for Employment Authorization (optional)
  • Form I-131 — Application for Travel Document (optional)
  • G-1145 — e-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance (optional)

Did You Know?

You can complete application forms and collect supporting documents with easy step-by-step personalized instructions, using the GreenCardHero guided software. Try it for free!

Around 2 Weeks Later

USCIS Receipt Notice (Form I-797) Arrives

The receipt notice confirms that USCIS has received your application. It contains a set of case numbers, which you can use to track your case status with the USCIS Case Status Checker.

Around 3-5 Weeks after Filing

Biometrics Appointment Notice Arrives for the Applicant

The biometrics services appointment is a quick, low stress procedure where the USCIS takes the applicant's fingerprints, photograph, and/or signature. This helps USCIS confirm the applicant's identity and run required background and security checks. Source

The appointment will be at a local USCIS Application Support Center (ASC). The applicant's appointment notice will include the date, time and location for the appointment. Source

Around 4-6 Weeks after Filing

The Applicant Goes to the Biometrics Appointment

Attend the scheduled biometrics services appointment. You can learn more about what it's like on the USCIS website.

Around 3 Months after Filing

Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Card Arrives for the Applicant

If the applicant filled out the optional forms for employment and travel authorization (Forms I-765 and I-131), the applicant will receive an approval notice and an EAD card in the mail. With an EAD card, the applicant can work in the U.S. and/or travel outside the U.S. while the application is pending.

Around 4-10 Months after Filing

Interview Notice Arrives for the Sponsor and Applicant

USCIS will schedule an in-person interview and mail an interview notice. Both the applicant and the sponsor need to attend. The interview notice will contain instructions on what supporting documents to bring to the interview.

Around 1-2 Months after Receiving Interview Notice

The Sponsor and Applicant Go to Green Card Interview

The day is finally here! Put on your cleanest shirts and arrive at the interview at the scheduled date and time. Both the applicant and the sponsor are required to attend.

The interview is an opportunity for USCIS to verify the information provided in your application, to discover new information, and to determine the credibility of the applicant. Source

During the interview, a USCIS officer will ask the applicant a series of questions to confirm that the applicant:

  • Never committed a crime
  • Hasn't defrauded the U.S. government
  • Hasn't been deported
  • Has no serious diseases
  • The marriage is real
  • Has financial support

Read our guide on how to prepare and what to expect at the interview.

Around 1-2 Months after Completing Interview

Green Card Arrives in the Mail! 🎉

Congratulations! You have made it!

Application Part One: The Sponsor Submits Immigrant Petition Forms and Documents to USCIS

The sponsor needs to submit two forms, along with supporting documents Source

  • I-130 — Petition for Alien Relative, to be completed by the sponsor. (The US government uses the term "alien" 👽 to refer to foreigners. This can get truly confusing when real aliens from Mars arrive and start filing U.S. government paperwork).
  • I-130A — Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary, to be completed by the applicant.

Did You Know?

You can complete application forms and collect supporting documents with easy step-by-step personalized instructions, using the GreenCardHero guided software. Try it for free!

Around 2 Weeks Later

USCIS Receipt Notice Arrives

The Receipt Notice confirms that USCIS has received your immigrant petition. It contains your case number, which you can use to track your case status with the USCIS Case Status Checker.

Around 7-10 Months Later

USCIS Notice of Approval Arrives 😀

Your immigrant petition has been approved and it's time for Application Part Two — Immigrant Visa Application!

Around 3 Weeks after USCIS Notice of Approval

Welcome Letter from NVC Arrives

The Welcome letter from National Visa Center contains your unique case number and invoice ID number. You can now start Application Part Two — Immigrant Visa Application. Source

You will need these numbers for filing future applications, so make sure to save the numbers and only share them with people you trust. Source

Application Part Two (Immigrant Visa Application) — Item 1 of 3: The Applicant Submits Form DS-261

Form DS-261 — Choice of Address and Agent, is a simple form you use to appoint a person (called an "agent") who will receive NVC communication. You can appoint yourself as this agent, or appoint any other person you trust. Source

Don't appoint any actual extraterrestrials 👽, though.

You can fill out and submit Form DS-261 using an online tool provided by NVC called the Consular Electronic Application Center, or CEAC. To log into CEAC, use the unique case number and invoice ID number you received in the Welcome Letter. Then follow the instructions on CEAC for DS-261. Source

Around 3 Weeks Later

Receipt Notice for DS-261 Arrives

Immigrant Visa Application — Item 2 of 3: The Applicant Pays Processing Fees

NVC charges two processing fees. They can be paid online through CEAC:

  • Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee ($325) Source
  • Affidavit of Support Fee ($120) Source

For payment, you will need to provide a bank routing number and a checking or savings account number from a U.S. bank. Source

Around 1 Week Later

Notice of Successful Fee Processing Arrives

Immigrant Visa Application — Item 3 of 3: The Applicant and the Sponsor Submits Application Forms and Documents to NVC

Part 1

Form DS-260 — Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration, is a long form that collects the applicant's personal information, addresses, family members, U.S. travel history, employment history, education history, medical history, criminal history, etc.

You can fill out and submit DS-260 online through CEAC.

Part 2

The applicant and the sponsor need to complete the following three items and submit them in ONE package to NVC:

  1. Collect supporting civil documents for DS-260 (completed by the applicant)
  2. complete Form I-864 (completed by the sponsor)
  3. Collect supporting financial documents for I-864 (completed by the sponsor)

Did You Know?

You can complete application forms and collect supporting documents with easy step-by-step personalized instructions, using the GreenCardHero guided software. Try it for free!

Immediately Available Online After Submission

Receipt Notice for DS-260 Arrives

Around 3 Weeks Later

NVC Approval Notice Arrives 😀

Your application has been approved and it's time for the Green Card interview!

Around 1-2 Months after NVC Approval Notice

Interview Appointment Letter Arrives

After NVC schedules your interview appointment, you will receive a letter noting the appointment date, time and location. The letter usually arrives around one month before the scheduled interview date. Source

The Applicant Completes Pre-Interview Activities

The pre-interview activities must be completed before the interview date. The activities required vary from embassy to embassy. Use this NVC webpage to select your embassy/consulate and get a Pre-Interview Checklist specific for your case.

Some common requirements include:

Medical Exam

The applicant is required to schedule a medical appointment with an authorized doctor in the country where the applicant will be interviewed. The interview appointment letter you receive will provide information on how to find an embassy-approved doctor.

Gather Documents Required for the Interview

These documents include the original version of all civil documents and financial documents submitted to NVC, copies of those documents, and other documents specified in the interview appointment letter.

Embassy/Consulate Specific Requirements

For example, many embassies and consulates require the applicant to register for passport delivery service before the interview. To get the full embassy/consulate specific requirements, use the NVC Pre-Interview Checklist.

Around 1 Month after Receiving the Interview Appointment Letter

The Applicant Attends the Interview

The day is finally here! Put on your cleanest shirt and arrive at the interview at the scheduled date and time. The sponsor's attendance is optional. They probably won't call you on time, but, hey, at this point you are a master at waiting for the government, right?

During the interview, a consular officer will ask the applicant a series of questions to confirm that the applicant:

  • Has never committed a crime
  • Hasn't defrauded the U.S. government
  • Hasn't been deported
  • Has no serious diseases
  • The marriage is real
  • Has financial support

Read our article on what to expect at the Green Card interview.

A Few Weeks Later (varies by embassy)

Passport with Visa and Sealed Immigrant Packet Arrive 😀

Yay! You made it! The visa will be valid for 6 months and you can use it to travel to the U.S.. The sealed Immigrant Packet is to be handed over to the border customs official when you enter the U.S.. Keep the packet sealed. Again: Don't... Open... The Packet!

The Applicant Pays Immigrant Fee

Before we are done, the U.S. government needs to get paid one more time...

USCIS charges an Immigrant Fee of $220. Source

Pay it through the USCIS website after you receive the immigrant visa and before you travel to the U.S.. (What is this fee for? As far as we can tell, this fee is primarily an opportunity for USCIS to squeeze some final dollars out of you. Welcome to America!).

The Applicant Travels to the U.S. within 6 Months

Make sure you come to the U.S. before your visa expires! Immigrant visas are usually valid for 6 months, but double check yours to make sure. Source

Once you arrive in the U.S., go through the border customs and present the sealed Immigrant Packet (you kept it sealed, right?!) to a customs official. You will then be admitted into the country.

Around 2-3 Weeks Later

Green Card Arrives in the Mail! 🎉

Congratulations! You have made it!

🔑 Submit Application Part One: Immigrant Petition

The sponsor and applicant submit the following forms, along with supporting documents:

  • Form I-130 — Petition for Alien Relatives
  • Form I-130A — Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary
  • G-1145 — e-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance (optional)

Application Part One's purpose is to establish the applicant's eligibility for a Green Card. Since the applicant's eligibility is based on their marriage to the sponsor, Application Part One helps to demonstrate:Source:

  • The sponsor is a real person.
  • The sponsor is a U.S. permanent resident.
  • The applicant is the sponsor's husband.
  • This marriage is real.

Did You Know?

You can complete application forms and collect supporting documents with easy step-by-step personalized instructions, using the GreenCardHero guided software. Try it for free!

Around 2 Weeks Later

USCIS Receipt Notice (Form I-797) Arrives

The receipt notice confirms that USCIS has received your Application Part One. It contains a case number, which you can use to track your Application Part One case status with the USCIS Case Status Checker. It also contains a date labeled "Priority Date". You will use this date later to determine when to submit Application Part Two.

Waiting period until a visa number becomes available

Good news — in November 2019, there is no wait time! So you can move onto submitting the adjustment of status application immediately after receiving I-130 Receipt Notice. This zero wait-time is expected to last until February next year Source. ⏰

After the Waiting Period is Over (Currently 0 Days)

🌱 Submit Application Part Two: Adjustment of Status

The sponsor and applicant submit the following forms, along with supporting documents:

  • Form I-485 — Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
  • Form I-864 — Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA
  • Form I-765 — Application for Employment Authorization (optional)
  • Form I-131 — Application for Travel Document (optional)
  • G-1145 — e-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance (optional)

Application Part Two's purpose is to apply for the applicant's Green Card. After USCIS approves Application Part One, the applicant has successfully established their Green Card eligibility; now they can apply for it. Application Part Two collects information that demonstrates Source:

  • The applicant is a real person.
  • The applicant's current immigration status doesn't bar them from receiving a Green Card.
  • The applicant can financially support themselves in the U.S. without government assistance.
  • The applicant is in good health.
  • The applicant has good moral characters.

Around 2-3 Weeks after Filing Adjustment of Status

USCIS Receipt Notices (Form I-797) Arrive

For each form you submit in Application Part Two, you will receive a receipt notice from USCIS. Each receipt notice contains a case number. You can use these case numbers to track your Application Part Two case status with the USCIS Case Status Checker.

Around 3-5 Weeks after Filing Adjustment of Status

Biometrics Appointment Notice Arrives for the Applicant

The biometrics services appointment is a quick, low stress procedure where the USCIS takes the applicant's fingerprints, photograph, and/or signature. This helps USCIS confirm the applicant's identity and run required background and security checks. Source

The appointment will be at a local USCIS Application Support Center (ASC). The applicant's appointment notice will include the date, time and location for the appointment. Source

Around 4-6 Weeks after Filing Adjustment of Status

The Applicant Goes to the Biometrics Appointment

Attend the scheduled biometrics services appointment. You can learn more about what it's like on the USCIS website.

Around 3 Months after Filing Adjustment of Status

Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Card Arrives for the Applicant

If the applicant filled out the optional forms for employment and travel authorization, the applicant will receive an approval notice and an EAD card in the mail. With an EAD card, the applicant can work in the U.S. and/or travel outside the U.S. while the application is pending.

Around 4-10 Months after Filing Adjustment of Status

Interview Notice Arrives for the Sponsor and Applicant

USCIS will schedule an in-person interview and mail an interview notice. Both the applicant and the sponsor need to attend. The interview notice will contain instructions on what supporting documents to bring to the interview.

Around 1-2 Months after Receiving Interview Notice

The Sponsor and Applicant Go to Green Card Interview

The day is finally here! Put on your cleanest shirts and arrive at the interview at the scheduled date and time. Both the applicant and the sponsor are required to attend.

The interview is an opportunity for USCIS to verify the information provided in your application, to discover new information, and to determine the credibility of the applicant. Source

During the interview, a USCIS officer will ask the applicant a series of questions to confirm that the applicant:

  • Never committed a crime
  • Hasn't defrauded the U.S. government
  • Hasn't been deported
  • Has no serious diseases
  • The marriage is real
  • Has financial support

Read our guide on how to prepare and what to expect at the interview.

Around 1-2 Months after Completing Interview

Green Card Arrives in the Mail! 🎉

Congratulations! You have made it!

Application Part One: The Sponsor Submits Immigrant Petition Forms and Documents to USCIS

The sponsor needs to submit two forms, along with supporting documents Source

  • I-130 — Petition for Alien Relative, to be completed by the sponsor. (The US government uses the term "alien" 👽 to refer to foreigners. This can get truly confusing when real aliens from Mars arrive and start filing U.S. government paperwork).
  • I-130A — Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary, to be completed by the applicant.

Did You Know?

You can complete application forms and collect supporting documents with easy step-by-step personalized instructions, using the GreenCardHero guided software. Try it for free!

Around 2 Weeks Later

USCIS Receipt Notice Arrives

The Receipt Notice confirms that USCIS has received your immigrant petition. It contains your case number, which you can use to track your case status with the USCIS Case Status Checker.

Around 7-10 Months Later

USCIS Notice of Approval Arrives 😀

Your immigrant petition has been approved and it's time for Application Part Two — Immigrant Visa Application!

For Around 2 weeks after USCIS Notice of Approval

Waiting period until a visa number becomes available ⏰

Around 3 Weeks after the waiting period ends

Welcome Letter from NVC Arrives

The Welcome letter from National Visa Center contains your unique case number and invoice ID number. You can now start Application Part Two – Immigrant Visa Application. Source

You will need these numbers for filing future applications, so make sure to save the numbers and only share them with people you trust. Source

Application Part Two (Immigrant Visa Application) — Item 1 of 3: The Applicant Submits Form DS-261

Form DS-261 — Choice of Address and Agent, is a simple form you use to appoint a person (called an "agent") who will receive NVC communication. You can appoint yourself as this agent, or appoint any other person you trust. Source

Don't appoint any actual extraterrestrials 👽, though.

You can fill out and submit Form DS-261 using an online tool provided by NVC called the Consular Electronic Application Center, or CEAC. To log into CEAC, use the unique case number and invoice ID number you received in the Welcome Letter. Then follow the instructions on CEAC for DS-261. Source

Around 3 Weeks Later

Receipt Notice for DS-261 Arrives

Immigrant Visa Application — Item 2 of 3: The Applicant Pays Processing Fees

NVC charges two processing fees. They can be paid online through CEAC:

  • Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee ($325) Source
  • Affidavit of Support Fee ($120) Source — Explained in detail below.

For payment, you will need to provide a bank routing number and a checking or savings account number from a U.S. bank. Source

Around 1 Week Later

Notice of Successful Fee Processing Arrives

Immigrant Visa Application — Item 3 of 3: The Applicant and the Sponsor Submits Application Forms and Documents to NVC

Part 1

Form DS-260 — Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration, is a long form that collects the applicant's personal information, addresses, family members, U.S. travel history, employment history, education history, medical history, criminal history, etc.

You can fill out and submit DS-260 online through CEAC.

Part 2

The applicant and the sponsor need to complete the following three items and submit them in ONE package to NVC:

  1. Collect supporting civil documents for DS-260 (completed by the applicant)
  2. complete Form I-864 (completed by the sponsor)
  3. Collect supporting financial documents for I-864 (completed by the sponsor)

Did You Know?

You can complete application forms and collect supporting documents with easy step-by-step personalized instructions, using the GreenCardHero guided software. Try it for free!

Immediately Available Online After Submission

Receipt Notice for DS-260 Arrives

Around 3 Weeks Later

NVC Approval Notice Arrives 😀

Your application has been approved and it's time for the Green Card interview!

Around 1-2 Months after NVC Approval Notice

Interview Appointment Letter Arrives

After NVC schedules your interview appointment, you will receive a letter noting the appointment date, time and location. The letter usually arrives around one month before the scheduled interview date. Source

The Applicant Completes Pre-Interview Activities

The pre-interview activities must be completed before the interview date. The activities required vary from embassy to embassy. Use this NVC webpage to select your embassy/consulate and get a Pre-Interview Checklist specific for your case.

Some common requirements include:

Medical Exam

The applicant is required to schedule a medical appointment with an authorized doctor in the country where the applicant will be interviewed. The interview appointment letter you receive will provide information on how to find an embassy-approved doctor.

Gather Documents Required for the Interview

These documents include the original version of all civil documents and financial documents submitted to NVC, copies of those documents, and other documents specified in the interview appointment letter.

Embassy/Consulate Specific Requirements

For example, many embassies and consulates require the applicant to register for passport delivery service before the interview. To get the full embassy/consulate specific requirements, use the NVC Pre-Interview Checklist.

Around 1 Month after Receiving the Interview Appointment Letter

The Applicant Attends the Interview

The day is finally here! Put on your cleanest shirt and arrive at the interview at the scheduled date and time. The sponsor's attendance is optional. They probably won't call you on time, but, hey, at this point you are a master at waiting for the government, right?

During the interview, a consular officer will ask the applicant a series of questions to confirm that the applicant:

  • Has never committed a crime
  • Hasn't defrauded the U.S. government
  • Hasn't been deported
  • Has no serious diseases
  • The marriage is real
  • Has financial support

Read our article on what to expect at the Green Card interview.

A Few Weeks Later (varies by embassy)

Passport with Visa and Sealed Immigrant Packet Arrive 😀

Yay! You made it! The visa will be valid for 6 months and you can use it to travel to the U.S.. The sealed Immigrant Packet is to be handed over to the border customs official when you enter the U.S.. Keep the packet sealed. Again: Don't... Open... The Packet!

The Applicant Pays Immigrant Fee

Before we are done, the U.S. government needs to get paid one more time...

USCIS charges an Immigrant Fee of $220. Source

Pay it through the USCIS website after you receive the immigrant visa and before you travel to the U.S.. (What is this fee for? As far as we can tell, this fee is primarily an opportunity for USCIS to squeeze some final dollars out of you. Welcome to America!).

The Applicant Travels to the U.S. within 6 Months

Make sure you come to the U.S. before your visa expires! Immigrant visas are usually valid for 6 months, but double check yours to make sure. Source

Once you arrive in the U.S., go through the border customs and present the sealed Immigrant Packet (you kept it sealed, right?!) to a customs official. You will then be admitted into the country.

Around 2-3 Weeks Later

Green Card Arrives in the Mail! 🎉

Congratulations! You have made it!

Ready to get started?

Our software helps you complete the marriage green card application, with step by step instructions — for just $179.