I am married to a green card holder and living in the U.S. How can I apply for a green card?
If you are married to a green card holder and living in the U.S., you may be eligible to apply for a green card through a two-step process:
- Family Preference Category (F2A Visa) Petition: Your green card holder spouse needs to file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on your behalf. This establishes your relationship as a spouse of a green card holder. Once the I-130 is approved, your case will be placed in the Family Preference Category (F2A). Keep in mind that there might be a waiting period due to visa number limitations in this category.
- Adjustment of Status (AOS) Application: After the Form I-130 is approved and your priority date becomes current (meaning a visa number is available), you can apply for adjustment of status to a permanent resident. This is the process where you transition from your current non-immigrant status to permanent resident status (green card holder) while staying in the U.S. To do this, you’ll need to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, along with other supporting documents.
Key steps in this process include:
- Form I-485: Complete and file Form I-485 along with the required documentation, including medical examinations, photographs, and supporting evidence of your relationship with your green card holder spouse.
- Biometrics Appointment: You will be scheduled for fingerprinting and biometrics collection.
- Work Authorization (EAD): While your Form I-485 is being processed, you can also apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) using Form I-765. This allows you to legally work in the U.S. while waiting for your green card application to be processed.
- Advance Parole (Travel Document): If you need to travel outside the U.S. while your green card application is pending, you should apply for an Advance Parole document using Form I-131. This ensures that you can re-enter the U.S. without abandoning your green card application.
- Interview: In many cases, you and your spouse will be required to attend an interview at a USCIS office. This interview is to verify the authenticity of your marriage and your eligibility for a green card.
It’s important to note that immigration laws and processes can change, and there might be additional requirements or steps depending on your specific circumstances. It’s recommended to consult with an immigration attorney or visit the official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for the most up-to-date information and guidance tailored to your situation.
How much are the marriage-based Adjustment of Status fees?
The fees for marriage-based Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) applications were as follows:
- Form I-485 Filing Fee: $1,140
- Biometrics Fee: $85 (This fee covers the cost of fingerprinting and background checks.)
- Total: $1,225
Please note that these fees can change over time, and it’s essential to check the official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website or consult with an immigration attorney for the most up-to-date fee information before submitting your application.
Additionally, if you choose to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and/or Advance Parole (travel document) concurrently with your Form I-485 application, there might be additional fees associated with those applications. Make sure to review the USCIS website for the most current fee information and any changes that might have occurred since my last update.
How long does it take to obtain a marriage green card in the U.S.?
The processing time for obtaining a marriage-based green card in the U.S. can vary widely depending on various factors, including the USCIS workload, your specific case, the USCIS service center processing your application, and any changes in immigration policies. Here’s a rough breakdown of the typical timeline:
- Form I-130 Processing: The processing time for the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, filed by your green card holder spouse can vary. It might take several months to a year or more for the I-130 to be approved.
- Priority Date: Once the I-130 is approved, the priority date (the date USCIS received the I-130 petition) becomes crucial. The priority date is used to determine when a visa number becomes available in the Family Preference Category (F2A) for spouses of green card holders.
- Waiting for Visa Number: The F2A category has a limited number of visa numbers available each year. Depending on visa availability and the demand for that category, there might be a waiting period before your priority date becomes current.
- Form I-485 Processing: Once your priority date becomes current, you can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Processing times for Form I-485 can also vary. On average, it might take around 8 to 14 months or more for the I-485 to be processed.
- Interview: If required, you and your spouse will attend an interview at a USCIS office. The interview is usually scheduled a few months after filing the I-485. The interview is essential to verify the authenticity of your marriage and your eligibility for a green card.
- Green Card Approval: After the interview (if applicable) and USCIS review, if your application is approved, you will receive your green card in the mail. It might take a few weeks to receive the physical green card.
It’s important to remember that these are approximate timeframes, and actual processing times can vary. Delays can occur due to factors beyond your control. USCIS provides estimated processing times on their website, and you can check the USCIS Processing Times page for the most up-to-date information based on the service center processing your application.
If you have concerns about the processing time or need more accurate information, you might consider consulting with an immigration attorney who can provide personalized guidance based on your specific circumstances.
Can I apply for EAD while I am waiting for my green card to be approved in the U.S.?
Yes, you can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) while you are waiting for your green card to be approved in the U.S. If you have filed Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, you can concurrently file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, to request an EAD.
Obtaining an EAD can be beneficial because it allows you to work legally in the U.S. while your green card application is being processed. Here are the key steps to apply for an EAD:
- Complete Form I-765: Fill out Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, following the instructions provided in the form and its accompanying instructions.
- Provide Supporting Documents: Along with Form I-765, you will need to provide supporting documents, which might include a copy of your Form I-485 receipt notice (to show that you have a pending adjustment of status application), photographs, and any other required documentation as specified in the form instructions.
- Pay the Fee: there is a fee associated with filing Form I-765 for an EAD. However, certain categories of applicants might be eligible for a fee waiver. Check the USCIS website for the most current fee information and instructions on how to pay.
- Submit Your Application: Send your completed Form I-765, supporting documents, and payment (if applicable) to the address provided in the form instructions. Make sure to keep copies of all documents you submit.
- Wait for Processing: After USCIS receives your application, they will process it and, if approved, issue your EAD. The processing time can vary, but you can check the USCIS Processing Times page for estimates based on the service center handling your application.
It’s important to note that the EAD you receive based on your Form I-485 application will typically be valid for a specific period of time, often in alignment with the expected processing time for your green card application. Once you receive your green card, you won’t need the EAD for employment purposes anymore.
Keep in mind that immigration laws and procedures can change, so it’s advisable to consult the official USCIS website or an immigration attorney for the most up-to-date information and guidance related to applying for an EAD while waiting for your green card approval.