- Proof of marriage relationship: filing form I-130 demonstrates to USCIS that you are married to a US citizen or green card holder;
- Green card application: along with the adjustment of status application, you will present evidence to USCIS to show that you are admissible to the US and are able to support yourself in the country (using an affidavit of support, Form I-864). This application can often be submitted at the same time as the spousal petition I-130.
- While the application is pending: The application process may take from 9 months up to a few years, depending on your situation and the city you live in. During this time, you are often eligible for a work permit/employment authorization document and a travel permit, allowing you to live, work and travel while your application is pending.
- The interview: Spousal visa applicants must attend an interview at their local USCIS office (along with the petitioning spouse). This is an opportunity for you to swear that the content of your applications is accurate and answer questions about your eligibility for a green card and your relationship with your spouse. Your immigration attorney can help you ensure that you feel prepared for the interview and all your documents are in order.
- Conditional residency: for couples who have been married less than 2 years at the time the green card is issued, a 2 year green card will be issued and a second process is required. This is known as Removal of Conditions on Permanent Residence. After 2 years, the “conditional resident” files an additional form with USCIS along with evidence of the continued marriage relationship (or end of the relationship, in some cases). At the completion of this process, a permanent, 10 year green card is granted. Many applicants may also be eligible to apply for US citizenship at this time, if desired.
If you have come to the US on a visa, you may be able to adjust status to permanent resident (apply for a green card) if you are married to a US citizen or permanent resident. This is possible even if your visa has expired. A brief overview: