After you’ve prepared all of the necessary documents and have everything signed, sealed and delivered to USCIS for your marriage-based green card application, you may be wondering what’s next. For Marriage-Based Adjustment of Status applicants, USCIS generally takes five to six months in total to process your application. It should be noted, however, that processing times are subject to change at the discretion of USCIS.
We generally receive receipt notices for forms I-130, I-131, I-485 and I-765 within 30 days of filing the petition. Once the receipt notices come in, we are able to track your case with USCIS.
After USCIS has your application, here’s what you can expect:
You should receive a Biometrics Notice within 30-60 days of filing the petition. We urge you to keep the appointment date and to only reschedule in extreme circumstances, because rescheduling could significantly slow down the entire process. Be sure not to miss the appointment (and we advise that you arrive 15 minutes early) – if you miss it, your application will be considered abandoned.
The notice will include information about what documents you’ll need to bring to your appointment. Make sure you have everything in order ahead of time. Wear business attire and present yourself in a professional manner.
All biometric appointments are conducted at an Application Support Center (ASC) in your area. At the appointment, you will have to fill out a form and have your fingerprints taken electronically. Once the process is complete, an ASC technician will stamp your biometrics appointment notice, which serves as evidence that you complied with the requirement.
You and your spouse will be required to attend an interview at your local USCIS office. Your interview notice should arrive within four months of filing your petition. The interview with the immigration officer should take about 30 minutes, but set aside two hours of time to be on the safe side. Like the biometrics appointment, your notice will include instructions on what documents to bring. Also like the biometrics appointment, don’t miss the appointment, avoid rescheduling and arrive early (15 to 30 minutes prior).
The interview will be similar to a job interview, so treat it as such – dress appropriately, maintain a professional demeanor and be prepared. To get an idea of what questions you might be asked, take a look at our post on sample interview questions.
Conditional Green Card
After you have successfully completed your interview, you should receive your green card in about a month. (By this time, you also should have received your EAD and Travel Authorization documents, which arrive within 60 to 90 days of filing your petition.) If you have been married less than two years, you will be issued a conditional green card, which is only valid for two years. If you have been married for more than two years, your green card will not be conditional and it will be valid for 10 years.
If you are issued a conditional green card, in the 90 days preceding the expiration of that card, you will have to file an application with USCIS to remove the conditions placed on your permanent residency. Once you have your conditional green card, it’s wise to start getting things in order so your documents will be ready when it’s time to file that application. You will need to provide evidence of your relationship – some examples include statements from joint accounts, loans, leases, mortgages, and some pictures from vacations or other special events.
USCIS could rule that you’ve abandoned your status if you fail to establish your intent to remain a permanent resident, so take great care to protect your status. The following could show that you intend to abandon your status as a green card holder:
- Moving to another country intending to live there permanently;
- Remaining outside the US for more than 183 days without obtaining a reentry permit or returning resident visa (additional conditions may apply);
- Remaining outside the US for more than two years after issuance of a reentry permit without obtaining a returning resident visa;
- Failing to file income tax returns while living outside the U.S. for any period of time;
- Declaring yourself a “non-resident” on your tax returns; and
- Failing to establish to the satisfaction of a US Immigration Officer your intent to maintain your permanent resident status at any inspection.
If you are hoping to obtain U.S. citizenship, you will be eligible if you maintain your permanent resident status for the required time period and meet other eligibility requirements. Further information about the U.S. citizenship process, also called Naturalization, can be found at USCIS.gov or by contacting Berardi Immigration Law. We’re here to help you every step of the way!