Are spouses of US citizens living in the US can apply for permanent residency?
Yes, spouses of U.S. citizens who are living in the U.S. are generally eligible to apply for permanent residency (green card) through a process known as “Adjustment of Status” (AOS). Adjustment of Status allows certain eligible individuals who are already in the U.S. to apply for a green card without having to leave the country.
To be eligible for Adjustment of Status as the spouse of a U.S. citizen, you must meet the following general requirements:
- Qualifying Relationship: You must be legally married to a U.S. citizen. Common-law marriages may also be eligible, provided they are recognized under state law.
- Inspection and Admission or Parole: You must have entered the U.S. legally (with inspection) or qualify for a limited set of exceptions to the inspection requirement.
- Immediate Visa Availability: As an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, there are no numerical limitations on the number of green cards available each year. This means that a visa number is usually immediately available for spouses of U.S. citizens.
- Continuous Presence in the U.S.: You must have continuously maintained lawful status or have been “paroled” into the U.S. since your last entry, and you must not have engaged in any unauthorized employment or other immigration violations.
- Admissibility: You must be admissible to the United States. This means you must not be subject to any grounds of inadmissibility, such as certain criminal convictions or other immigration violations.
If you meet the above requirements, you can apply for Adjustment of Status by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). As part of the process, you may also need to submit other supporting documents, attend a biometrics appointment, and possibly an interview with USCIS.
Please note that while spouses of U.S. citizens are generally eligible for Adjustment of Status, the specific eligibility criteria and requirements can vary based on individual circumstances. It’s essential to review the USCIS guidelines and instructions or consult with an immigration attorney or accredited representative for personalized guidance based on your specific case.
What documents must be submitted with the Adjustment of Status application if I am married to a US citizen and live in the U.S.?
When applying for Adjustment of Status (AOS) as the spouse of a U.S. citizen living in the U.S., you will need to submit a comprehensive set of documents to support your application. These documents are used to establish your eligibility for a green card based on your qualifying relationship with the U.S. citizen spouse. Here are some of the common documents typically required for the Adjustment of Status application:
- Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status: This is the main form you will need to file to apply for a green card through Adjustment of Status.
- Form I-130 Approval Notice: A copy of the I-130 approval notice, which proves that your U.S. citizen spouse’s Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, has been approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record: A copy of your most recent Form I-94, which shows your current immigration status and authorized period of stay in the U.S.
- Passport Photos: Two passport-style photos that meet the U.S. visa photo requirements.
- Identity and Relationship Documents:
- Copy of your foreign passport with biographical information and any U.S. entry stamps.
- Copy of your birth certificate with certified English translation.
- Copy of your marriage certificate with certified English translation.
- Form I-864, Affidavit of Support: This form is filed by your U.S. citizen spouse to demonstrate that they have sufficient financial resources to support you.
- Evidence of Financial Support: Documents that support the Form I-864, such as your U.S. citizen spouse’s federal income tax returns (and any W-2 forms), pay stubs, and employment verification letter.
- Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record: A completed and sealed medical examination report conducted by a designated USCIS civil surgeon to demonstrate that you meet the health requirements for immigration.
- Proof of Continuous Presence in the U.S.: Documents to demonstrate that you have continuously maintained lawful status or have been “paroled” into the U.S. since your last entry.
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (Optional): If you wish to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD or work permit) while your Form I-485 is pending, you can include Form I-765 and the filing fee.
- Form I-131, Application for Travel Document (Optional): If you wish to apply for Advance Parole, which allows you to travel outside the U.S. and return while your Form I-485 is pending, you can include Form I-131 and the filing fee.
Please note that these documents are not an exhaustive list, and additional documents may be required based on your specific circumstances. USCIS guidelines and requirements can change, so it’s essential to verify the current requirements and instructions on the official USCIS website or consult with an immigration attorney or accredited representative for the most up-to-date information regarding your specific case.
How long will it take to obtain a green card if I am married to a US citizen and living in the U.S.?
The processing time to obtain a green card (permanent residency) through marriage to a U.S. citizen and living in the U.S. can vary depending on several factors, including the USCIS workload, the complexity of the case, and the local USCIS office where the application is processed. As of my last update in September 2021, the processing times for Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, varied, with some cases taking several months to over a year to be approved.
On average, the USCIS processing time for an Adjustment of Status application based on marriage to a U.S. citizen could range from 8 to 14 months or even longer in certain cases. This timeline includes the time it takes to process the I-485 application, conduct any required interviews, and issue the green card if the application is approved.
It’s important to note that USCIS processing times can fluctuate, and the actual processing time for your specific case may differ from the average processing time. Some factors that could affect the processing time include the complexity of your case, the workload at the USCIS office handling your application, and any issues or requests for additional evidence that may arise during the adjudication process.
In some cases, USCIS may expedite the processing of green card applications based on compelling circumstances or humanitarian reasons, but expedited processing is not guaranteed and is at the discretion of USCIS.
To get an accurate estimate of current processing times for Form I-485 and other USCIS forms, you can check the USCIS website or use the “Check Case Processing Times” tool on the USCIS website. This tool allows you to enter the specific USCIS service center processing your application and find the most up-to-date processing time information.
If your case takes longer than expected, you can also submit a case inquiry or contact USCIS for an update on the status of your application. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that you have provided all required supporting documents and have followed USCIS instructions accurately to avoid delays in the processing of your green card application.
As USCIS processing times and policies can change, it’s advisable to verify the current processing times on the official USCIS website or consult with an immigration attorney or accredited representative for the most up-to-date information regarding your specific case.