The marriage visa is a visa for foreigners who married a US citizen and have a marriage certificate declaring your relationship status.
Marriage Visa – 6-month timeline (when the foreigner is in the United States)
- Form I-130 petition needs to be submitted to USCIS for a relative, such as spouse, child or parent
This is what you do to get a marriage visa: Get Marriage Certificate – This takes 1 week. Fill out 2 Questionnaires – one for foreigner and one for an American citizen.
Before we start counting the 6 months:
- First phone call/meeting
- Client Attorney agreement – signed
- List of supporting documents for marriage visa, provided by the law firm – you can get it the same day
- Medical exam – 1-2 days to schedule appointment & 5-7 days to get results; only doctors approved by the USCIS, $120 – $350 depends on location.
- Lawyer reviews all information and prepares documents packages and signatures. 1-2 week
Start 6 months & price to pay:
Documentation filed to the USCIS – $1490 is the price USCIS per person above 21 years.
Children under 21 years old cost $1070 per each
Within 30 days from the time the case is filed, the foreigner gets an official document from USCIS showing that case is pending.
- Within 45 from the 1st day – Fingerprints – same day, no appointment needed.
Between the fingerprint and 60-90 permits, an RFE can be issued.
- 60-90 days from the 1st day, you get work and travel permit
- From starting point its 6 month foreigner wait for an interview.
- Success Interview: 1-2 weeks after the interview you get a green card
- Officer not happy from Interview: Get a 2nd interview. 2nd interview may separate the couple. During interview, couple must bring Original Documents IE) Birth Certificate, Joint financial statements, confirming finances) These documents are not submitted by the lawyer.
- Motion Appeal Denial – Incase USCIS denies your case, you can ask them to review it again. Usually there is no hope to get a successful appeal.
The Green card for the marriage visa is issued for 2 years, after 2 years there are 2 options
- couple prove they are still together and all good;
- couple separated but they prove they married in good faith.
But, if you plan to do this from home, you should know the process is different.
Green Card if Foreigner is overseas (consular processing)
- USCIS – 3-4 month processing time – until they approve the case. ( no premium available for marriage cases – this means that for marriage visa you cannot pay more to urge the process) Filing fees 420$ (USCIS fees)
2. I-130 submit application → 2 things happen: in 30 days you get a receipts showing case is pending and then in 3-4 months approval.
Once approved, USCIS forward the case to NVC. – This will take approx. 60 days.
3. NVC / Department of state – 3-4 months – They do a series background check including police report to make sure you are not a criminal , as well as original documents submitted, birth certificate, divorce & marriage certificates, translation of birth certificate. Financial documents are to be submitted by American Citizen.
Cost: $88 + $404 – government fees
Questionnaire submitted online by USCIS DS-260 submitted.
Most of the NVC process is done online.
The purpose of this stage (NVC – that American can support financially the foreigner and to know the foreigner is not a criminal/terrorist
Case forwarded: Once case is approved, the case if forwarded to the embassy back home – 30-60 days
Embassy in applicant’s home country – It may take 2 months or longer depending on applicant background check.
2 things happen together:
- Fingerprints – happens in consul
- Medical exam
Time line 1-2 weeks for both
- Invitation for interview – just foreigner goes. Bring photos.
- Answer is given during the interview
Submit passport during interview and 2 weeks later get the immigrant visa.
What is an immigrant visa
Visa permission to receive a green card?
Once visa is issued, the foreigner must enter America within 3-6 month. Once applicant enters the states, the green card is automatically sent to his home address.
The green card is for 2 years only. Conditional green.
After 2 years lawyer file to remove the conditions and then its a green card for 10 years.
Removing condition after 2 years is hard.
Doing 10 year green card is easier than the 2 year removal.
For the removal of the condition, There are 3 situations:
- Happily ever married – this called Joint Petition
- You are separated
Good faith supporting documentation – (the point: that when you did get married you did it in good faith. This is KEY. Trips together, banks, credit card.
After 10years USCIS can revoke your citizenship if they discover marriage was not real.
Timeline for Removal of Green Card
6-7 month to get a green card approval
Submit case with ALL joint documents
I-751 Application – application for removal of conditions
After 30 days get the receipt – showing that case is pending.
This also serves as Travel or Work permit for 1 year duration (it’s a document not a card)
Later option, if more than 6/7 month pass and no approval, you should expect: RFE, Interview or approval. Up to 3 separate interviews are possible to happen
There is a way to avoid the 2 year green card and get 10 years right away.
If the couple if married 2 years before filing, the client can get a green card right away.
Can a lawyer join my immigration interview?
Lawyer comes with you to the Interview – helps if USCIS is pushing the couple regarding certain issues.
Read about other visas to the United States in our Blog