Marriage-Based Green Card Timeline | Guide to Processing Times in 2024

A marriage green card is the pathway U.S. citizens can take to bring their spouse to the United States to live permanently. This differs from a K1 visa in that it is designed for couples who are not yet married. Marriage-based immigration can be complex and tedious, depending on your background and situation. In this guide, we’ll explore the marriage-based green card timeline and tips for making the process seamless alongside your immigration attorney.

Bring Your Spouse to the U.S. 


Spouse Visa USA Processing Times in 2024

Processing time for the spousal visa can range from 8 months to 5 years. Two things to understand throughout the green card application process is that the U.S. spouse is known as the “sponsor” while the spouse looking for the green card is called the “beneficiary”. To narrow down your timeline, you need to identify two things:

  1. When applying, will the beneficiary be in the U.S. under a nonimmigrant visa or living abroad?
  2. Is the sponsor a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident (green card holder)?

Once you’ve identified those things, look at the chart below for details on spouse visa USA processing times in 2024.

Status of U.S. Spouse

Currently Residing In...

Approx. Wait Time as of 2024

U.S. Citizen

United States

8-12 months


1.5-2 years

U.S. Green Card Holder 

United States 

3-4 years


4-5 years

Marriage Green Card Timeline: U.S. Citizen Spouse

Marrying a U.S. citizen does not mean you can become a citizen immediately. But instead, the possibility of obtaining a green card opens up as the spouse of a U.S. citizen. However, several criteria must be fulfilled before you can file for naturalization.

Below are the two possible ways a spouse of a U.S. citizen can obtain a green card. It depends on if the non-immigrant is abroad or living in the United States. Among other requirements, you need to satisfy that your marriage is genuine to qualify for a green card.

Learn how you can Track Your Green Card.

k1 or spousal visa

Consular Processing

This consular processing section applies when a non-immigrant abroad is married to a U.S. citizen.

Green card wait times can be much longer if your application is completed incorrectly or if you choose an application pathway that does not apply to your situation. VisaNation takes the guesswork out of the equation and ensures your application is tailored to the correct application pathway. Create your application today!

Reunite with Your Spouse Sooner


Petition for Alien Relative

As a first step in the process, you must establish the existence of a valid marriage. You will need to file the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative with the USCIS in a category reserved for immediate family. The sponsor alone must also file the I-130A, Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary.

Filing these forms kicks off your marriage-based green card timeline. The processing time for these forms depends on which USCIS service center has your forms. You can check your form and case status online.

Citizen Spouse I-130 Processing Time as of 2024

According to USCIS, 80% of cases are processed within 14 months at all service centers. If USCIS sends you a Request for Evidence (RFE), further evidence and/or information is required to complete processing.

Check out this guide on what happens to green card after divorce!

National Visa Center Processing Time

The average processing time for NVC is 3 months. Since the sponsor is a U.S. citizen, the beneficiary does not have to wait to file the online visa immigrant application, DS-260.

Once you have filed your Petition for Alien Relative along with the supplementary I-130A, the USCIS office will transfer the case to the National Visa Center (NVC). You can check the most recent NVC processing times online. You can also consider expediting your NVC file processing.

NVC timeframe

Check out these popular Marriage-Based Green Card Interview Questions. 

Once a handover is completed from the USCIS to NVC, they will gather the necessary forms and documentation to decide if the spouse seeking a green card is eligible for an interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.

Once the case is ready for processing, the spouse will have to pay processing fees and a financial support form fee. The financial support form is commonly known as the Affidavit of Support (form I-864).

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Interview and Approval

Your spouse will need to prepare for the interview at the U.S. embassy. To do this, the beneficiary needs to complete the following:

  • Medical Examination
    • Complete this with a State Department-approved doctor. The U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling your case will give a list of eligible doctors along with your interview notice.
  • Lodge Address
    • Follow the directions from the responsible U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Your passport will be delivered to this address once the approved visa stamp is obtained.
  • Fingerprinting Appointment
    • In most cases, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate will request a background and security check. The beneficiary will be informed of the procedure or any special instructions.

When your spouse has completed the above prerequisites, they will be required to attend what is known as a green card interview. The interview will be at the embassy or consulate per the instructions of date, time, and location given in a prior interview notice. U.S. embassies and consulates tell the NVC their available appointment times. NVC schedules the interview on a first-come, first-served basis. Check with your nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate for potential interview wait times.

Learn about Immigration Options for the USA.

There are no strict criteria such as the number of years of marriage to be eligible. Instead, the consular official handling your case must be sufficiently satisfied that your marriage is genuine. There is a rise in the number of fraudulent attempts to obtain marriage-based green cards, and, as such, newlyweds usually face more scrutiny. The consular official can approve on the spot.

Let Us Help You With Marriage Immigration


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To get to the interview stage, your application must pass the initial assessment stages. This means that the USCIS will check whether you have provided all of the necessary documents and forms first, before allowing you to progress to the interview stage. VisaNation ensures that you have all of the necessary documentation and that your application is error-free. Start your application today!

Marriage Green Card Timeline, U.S. citizen spouse living in the U.S.

Marriage Green Card Timeline: U.S. Green-Card Holder Spouse

Though many of the forms and steps are the same for immigrants married to U.S. legal permanent residents as those married to citizens, the timeline is not the same.

I-130 Processing Time for Spouse of Green Card Holder

USCIS Service Center

Processing Time as of 2024


42 months


24.5 months


31 months


35 months


34.5 months

Concurrent filing is not allowed for non-citizen spouses. Therefore, after the immigrant spouse’s I-130 is approved, they must wait until a visa is available before submitting the I-485.

To know when a visa is available, look at the Visa Bulletin and look under the F-2A visa to see the priority date based on your home country.

The I-485 processing time is the same for citizen and noncitizen spouses although processing time can be much longer if your receive an RFE due to incomplete application details.

Get a Green Card for Your Spouse


Consular Processing

The consular processing for the spouses of green card holders is similar to the process mentioned above but with different processing times.

The key difference is after filing the I-130, the applicant has to wait until their priority date is current on the visa bulletin before being able to submit their application to the NVC.

Spouse Visa Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find answers to the most commonly asked questions about marriage-based green cards. Did you know that when you use VisNation’s software, all of your questions can be answered in your account? Get started today!

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How long do you have to be married to get a green card?

After getting married, you are first issued a conditional Marriage Green Card. Refer to the chart above for specific scenarios. Then, after being married for two years, you can apply for a permanent marriage green card.

How can I get a green card faster than 90 days?

Marrying a U.S. citizen is already one of the quickest ways to immigrate to the country. You can request to expedite your request with USCIS. USCIS considers the following criteria when deciding which cases to expedite

  • Urgent humanitarian reason related to human welfare
  • Nonprofit organization whose request is in furtherance of the interest of the United States
  • U.S. government interests
  • A clear USCIS error

How Long to Get Green Card After Interview 2024?

USCIS has 30 days from the date of your interview to let you know of their decision. If USCIS approves the green card, they will typically mail your green card about six months from the time of your interview. You can check your case processing time using this USCIS tool.

How We Can Help

Understanding the marriage-based green card timeline starts with understanding your case. Many factors go into what you can expect in terms of waiting times. The best thing to do is to have an immigration attorney review your case and advise you on more accurate processing times.

VisaNation Law Group attorneys have helped hundreds of families and immigrants realize their dream of migrating to the United States.

Get in touch with one of VisaNation Law Group’s immigration attorneys and schedule your private consultation today.