Timeline for Marriage-Based Green Card – Comprehensive Guide

An introduction

The procedure of obtaining a marriage green card enables a spouse of a U.S. citizen or a green card holder to live and work in the United States permanently. You may move through the process more quickly if you are aware of the timeline for the marriage-based green card. From the first application to getting your green card, our guide will walk you through every procedure, highlighting important turning points and expected timelines.

Step-by-Step Timeline

Step-by-Step Timeline in obtaining Green Card

  1. Filing the Petition (1-3 Months)

Filling out Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, is the first step towards a marriage-based green card. The petitioner, a U.S. citizen or a green card holder, files this form to prove their marriage to the beneficiary.

Key Actions: Fill out and submit Form I-130 together with supporting documentation, like the marriage certificate, verification of the petitioner’s citizenship or green card status, and proof of legal marriage (such as joint financial records, pictures, etc.).

Timeline: USCIS usually handles I-130 petitions in one to three months. You will get a receipt notice (Form I-797) after submission confirming to USCIS receiving the petition.

  1. National Visa Center Processing (3-5 Months)

When the I-130 petition is granted, the matter is transferred to the National Visa Centre (NVC). A welcome letter from the NVC will include instructions on how to pay processing costs and submit in Form DS-260, the application for an immigrant visa, along with other necessary paperwork.

Key Actions: Pay the processing costs for your visa application, submit Form DS-260 online, and get other paperwork, like police records, Form I-864, which shows proof of financial assistance, and passport images.

Timeline: Depending on the correctness and completeness of the documents sent in as well as the workload at the NVC right now, this stage usually takes three to five months.

  1. Arranging the Interview  (1-2 Months)

After completion of the NVC’s processing, the case is sent to the applicant’s home country’s U.S. Embassy or Consulate for the visa interview. The applicant will be notified of the date and time of an interview appointment by the embassy.

Key Actions: Get original paperwork ready, have a medical exam by a licenced doctor, and practice frequently asked interview questions.

Timeline: The interview scheduling process can take one to two months, depending upon the availability and schedule of the embassy.

  1. Attending the Interview for (1 Day)

One important phase in the procedure is the visa interview. The married legality and the applicant’s green card eligibility will be verified by a consular officer. Bring all original paperwork, and be ready to respond to in-depth relationship-related inquiries.

Key Actions: The main things to do are show up for the interview, honestly respond to the consular officer’s questions, and supply any extra paperwork that is asked.

Timeline: While the visa is issued and the passport returned with the visa stamp can take a few days to several weeks, the interview itself happens in a single day.

  1. Entering the United States (1-2 Weeks)

Approved visa holders are free to enter the US. A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official will examine the paperwork at the port of entry and approve the permanent resident’s admission.

Key Actions: Give the CBP officer your visa packet, they will review it for a short while, and you will get a stamp in your passport proving you are a permanent resident.

Timeline: Depending on travel plans and how quickly CBP processes at the port of entry, this stage usually takes one to two weeks.

  1. Getting the Green Card (2-4 Weeks)

The applicant will receive their actual green card in the mail in two to four weeks after arriving in the country. The possessor of this card can live and work in the United States as it is evidence of their legal permanent resident status.

 Key Actions: Check the mail for the green card; if it doesn’t arrive in the given period, make sure the U.S. address is accurate. Get in touch with USCIS.

Timeline: After arrival into the United States, the green card usually arrives in two to four weeks.

Factors Affecting the Timeline

A marriage-based green card application can take longer overall due to several reasons:

USCIS and NVC Processing Times: United States Citizenship and Immigration Processing timelines are subject to change depending on USCIS and NVC demand and efficiency.

Application Completeness: If the application is missing any information or if more proof is needed, delays may happen.

Interview Scheduling: Location-based availability of interview slots at American embassies or consulates varies.

Country of Origin: Because of particular national limitations or larger application volumes, applicants from some countries may have to wait longer for processing.

Guidance for a More Easy Process

Organise Yourself: Organise and make easily accessible all papers and communication.

Answer Right Away: Answer requests for more information or documentation as soon as possible.

Find Legal Counsel: Make sure your application is precise and comprehensive by speaking with an immigration marriage attorney.

Getting Ready for the Interview: Test out common interview questions and make sure you have all the paperwork you need ready.

Detailed Timeline Breakdown

  1. Initial Submission of Form I-130 (1-3 Months):
  • Submit Form I-130 and the necessary paperwork.
  • Get the USCIS receipt notice.
  1. Form I-130 Approved and Transferred to NVC (3-5 Months):
  • I-130 petition processing and approval are handled by USCIS.
  • NVC mails a letter of welcome along with directions for what to do next.
  1. NVC Processing (3-5 Months):
  • Apply for a visa and submit Form DS-260.
  • Obtain and submit any other necessary paperwork.
  1. Scheduling and Attending the Visa Interview (2-3 Months):
  • NVC sends the matter to the American Consulate or Embassy.
  • The visa interview is scheduled and carried out by the Embassy.
  1. Entering the United States (1-2 Weeks):
  • Get your visa and go to the United States.
  • CBP inspects you; you get an admission stamp.
  1. Receiving the Physical Green Card (2-4 Weeks):
  • Green card sent to applicant’s American address.

Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Delays in Processing: Take the initiative to find out how your application is progressing and to reply right away to any requests for more details.

Improper Documentation: To prevent delays, make sure all forms are correctly completed and that all necessary papers are attached.

Nerves Before an Interview: Practise possible questions and make sure all paperwork is ready before the visa interview.

Travel Restrictions: Make thorough travel plans and become knowledgeable about any possible criteria or limitations that could impact your admission to the United States.


Timelines for marriage-based green cards need to be carefully planned, precisely attended to, and patiently handled. Application success can be increased by applicants who fully prepare and understand every stage of the procedure. Seeking individualised support and professional advice, think about speaking with our expert immigration lawyers at Passage Law, who can assist you at every stage.


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