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I Just Married A US Citizen -- What Do I Do Now?

Chairs set up for a wedding ceremony

Quick Question:

I am a foreigner in the US on a work visa. I just married a US Citizen (or US Green Card Holder). What do I do now?

Your US Citizen spouse can petition for you get the green card. If you are both in the US, the process is called “Adjustment of Status”.

Here are some quick facts about the green card process based on marriage to a US Citizen/Green Card Holder:

  • It used to take about 12-15 months from filing until the green card interview. We are now seeing adjudication times of around 8 months.

  • We prepare you and your spouse for the interview in detail. Sometimes USCIS waives green card interviews altogether.

  • The green card can arrive about 3-4 weeks after the interview.

  • The foreign spouse will receive employment and travel authorization after the petition is filed. The timing on the arrival of employment/travel authorization can vary widely and has recently taken up to 8 months.USCIS has been issuing employment authorizations more quickly than it issues travel authorizations. Travel inconvenience is a major consideration in determining when to file a marriage based green card petition with adjustment of status. Unless the foreign spouse is in H-1B or L-1 status, the foreign spouse cannot travel internationally until travel authorization is issued.

  • We will need to show that the US spouse (or the couple together) earns more than 125% of the poverty line for your household size. This generally requires the US spouse or the couple to earn about $25,000 per year, although the precise threshold can vary year by year.

  • If the income levels are too low, we can satisfy this requirement by looking to assets or a “joint sponsor".

  • If you are recently married, the green card will be “conditional” – valid for only 2 years. You will then have to apply to Immigration for the permanent (10 year) green card.

What does USCIS look for in the green card interview? It verifies that the couple’s documents are in order and that the marriage is bona fide: that the couple intends to build a life together. Note that some green card cases are approved without an interview

Remember: Marriage based green cards are available to same sex couples too.

If you have any questions about the process of obtaining a green card through Adjustment of Status, please contact us at

Photo by Christina Victoria Craft on Unsplash.

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