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Who Can Petition for a Spousal Green Card?

U.S. Citizens: The spouse of a U.S. Citizen is classified as an Immediate relative. Under this category, there are no annual quota restrictions for the number of green cards that can be issued to spouses of U.S. citizens. Thus, immediate relatives are given special priority and avoid waiting in line for a visa to become available.

Permanent Residents: The spouse of a Permanent Resident (i.e., green card holder) are given a priority date and fall under the second category of individuals in line for an immigrant visa. Unlike the spouse of a U.S. Citizen, spouses of permanent residents are subjected to the annual quota restrictions for green cards and must wait in line for their priority date before obtaining their visa.

What Must You Prove to the Immigration Officials in Your Green Card Application?

Generally speaking, you must prove that you have a legally valid marriage that occurred either in the United States or a foreign country. You must also prove to the immigration officials that the marriage between yourself and your spouse is bona fide (i.e., real) and was not entered into for the purpose of obtaining a green card or other immigration benefit. Additionally, you and your spouse must be in a monogamous relationship, which means that you are only married to one person at a time. The immigration officials will also inquire into other areas of the spouses’ backgrounds, including: financial standing, criminal history, education and employment history, and health.

How to Apply

Adjustment of Status: If your immigrant spouse is physically present in the U.S., then they may be eligible for a process known as Adjustment of Status (AOS). A U.S. Citizen Spouse may petition for their immigrant spouse by filing Form I-130 and I-485 concurrently. However, if you are a Permanent Resident, you may only file Form I-130 until your immigrant spouse’s priority date approaches for filing of Form I-485. Once all forms have been processed, you and your immigrant spouse will be scheduled for an interview with the USCIS, at which time you both will be required to prove the legitimacy of your marriage. If the USCIS finds that you and your spouse meet all of the requisites, your immigrant spouse should subsequently receive their green card in the mail within a few weeks.

Consular Processing: If your immigrant spouse resides abroad, then they must go through a process known as consular processing. A U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident spouse must first file Form I-130 with the USCIS. Once approved, the USCIS will forward the approved Form I-130 to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing. The NVC is a part of the Department of State, and handles green card and visa applications for individuals residing outside of the U.S. The immigrant spouse must then submit their green card application (via DS-260) with the NVC. If the petitioning spouse is a U.S. citizen, the DS-260 may be submitted immediately without the immigrant spouse having to wait in line for a visa to become available. If the petitioning spouse is a Permanent Resident, the immigrant spouse cannot submit the DS-260 application until their priority date matures and a visa becomes available. Once the DS-260 application has been submitted, the NVC will forward the application to the nearest embassy or consulate in the immigrant spouse’s home country, which will then contact the immigrant spouse to arrange for an in-person interview.

How Long Does it Take to Receive Approval for the Green Card?

Adjustment of Status: If all goes well and the green card application was properly prepared and submitted correctly, and USCIS did not issue a Request for Evidence (RFE), the process takes on average 10 to 13 months from start to finish.

Consular Processing: At times, consular processing may be much quicker than using the Adjustment of Status system from inside the United States. The time needed for consular processing varies from case to case, but typically, it takes about 4 to 8 months to receive a green card once the petition has been approved and a visa number has been issued.

However, keep in mind that under either process, the processing times may be shortened or extended based on various factors, such as politics, natural disasters, or additional requests for evidence/information made by immigration officials.


While it is not mandatory, it is always highly recommended to hire a knowledgeable Immigration Attorney to assist you with the preparation of your immigration application(s).

A reputable Immigration Law Firm, such as the

Law Office of Olivia C Cummings, will have an experienced attorney review your entire case to determine what process is best for you moving forward. A case review by an Immigration Attorney will help to weed out any possible issues that may arise in an attempt to eliminate the possibility of an application denial, or worse, an immigrant being placed into deportation and removal proceedings.

If you are interested in applying for a green card, or if you are on the fence about it and would like to gather additional information, please contact the Law Office of Olivia C Cummings to schedule a detailed and informative consultation with our experienced Attorney. We will guide you through the entire process and answer any questions that you may have.

Contact our office today via phone at (772)236-0148, via email at .

You can also visit our website at


Attention: This article was written to provide general information, which should not be construed as legal advice. If you are seeking advice on a specific legal matter, you are encouraged to contact our law firm directly and schedule a consultation with our Immigration Attorney for a thorough review of your case.


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