Understanding the Timeline for Your Marriage Green Card Case

9 Jul, 2024

As an experienced immigration lawyer and recipient of the prestigious Super Lawyers Award and the Best Lawyers Award by U.S. News, I often get asked, “How long will my marriage green card case take?” Unfortunately, the answer isn’t straightforward due to the complexities involved. Let’s break down the different types of marriage cases and their respective timelines.


How long does a US green card case take for married couple? to answer that a lot of information is needed, plus a lot of luck

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Types of Marriage Green Card Cases

There are five primary types of marriage-based green card cases, each with its own set of variables:

  1. Fiancé(e) Visa Cases (K-1 Visa): For those engaged to a U.S. citizen and planning to marry in the United States.
  2. Marriage Cases Involving a U.S. Citizen and Foreign Spouse in the U.S.
  3. Marriage Cases Involving a Green Card Holder and Foreign Spouse in the U.S.
  4. Consular Processing for spouses living overseas and married to a U.S. Citizen.
  5. Consular Processing for spouses living overseas and married to a Green Card Holder.

Timeline Considerations

Embassy Processing Times: Each U.S. embassy worldwide operates on its own schedule, greatly affecting how long it takes to process your case. Some embassies might take two to three years to schedule an interview, while others might do it in just three months.

Backlogs: As indicated by the visa bulletin, there is often a significant backlog for spouses of green card holders. This backlog can cause delays ranging from three to five years. This backlog period is unpredictable and can fluctuate significantly.

Typical Processing Times

Here’s a general idea of what to expect based on the type of case:

  1. Marriage to U.S. Citizens (Inside the U.S.):
    • Processing Time: 3 to 12 months on average.
  2. Marriage to U.S. Citizens (Outside the U.S.):
    • Processing Time: 1.5 to 3 years on average.
  3. Marriage to Green Card Holders:
    • Processing Time: Typically around 5 years due to the visa bulletin backlog.
  4. Fiancé(e) Visa (K-1 Visa):
    • Processing Time: Similar to marriage to U.S. citizens cases, around 1.5 to 3 years. However, this varies significantly depending on the embassy.

Embassy-Specific Timelines

The processing time for consular cases can vary widely depending on the U.S. embassy involved. For example:

  • Abu Dhabi: May take 2 to 3 years.
  • New Zealand: Could be as quick as 3 months.

Key Takeaways

When asking about the timeline for your marriage green card case, it’s crucial to consider:

  • The specific type of marriage case.
  • Whether the foreign spouse is inside or outside the U.S.
  • The specific U.S. embassy involved.
  • The current backlog according to the visa bulletin.

Every case is unique, and processing times can vary significantly. It’s always best to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer to get a more accurate estimate based on your specific circumstances.

If you have any further questions or would like personalized advice, feel free to contact us. We’re here to help you navigate the complexities of the immigration process.

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