I am in the U.S. on an F-1 visa and recently got married to a U.S. citizen. When can I apply for a marriage green card?
If you’re an F-1 visa holder who has recently married a U.S. citizen and you’re interested in applying for a marriage-based green card (also known as lawful permanent residency), there are a few important things to consider:
Generally, you can apply for a marriage-based green card as soon as you and your U.S. citizen spouse are legally married. However, there are some factors to keep in mind:
Immediate Relative Category: Spouses of U.S. citizens fall under the “immediate relative” category for green card purposes. Unlike other family preference categories, there is no waiting list for immediate relatives. This means that as soon as your application is approved, you’ll be eligible to receive your green card.
Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing: Depending on your circumstances, you can either apply for Adjustment of Status (AOS) if you’re already in the U.S., or go through Consular Processing if you’re outside the U.S. The process for AOS involves filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. For Consular Processing, you would typically file Form DS-260.
Eligibility: While there’s no specific waiting period after marriage to apply for a marriage-based green card, it’s important to ensure that you meet all the eligibility requirements. This includes demonstrating the bona fides of your marriage to prove that it’s legitimate and not solely for immigration purposes.
Filing Fees and Documentation: Be prepared to pay the necessary filing fees and submit all required documentation along with your application. This includes forms, supporting documents, financial information, and evidence of your relationship.
Work Authorization and Travel: If you’re applying for Adjustment of Status, you can also file Form I-765 for work authorization and Form I-131 for advance parole (permission to travel while your green card application is pending).
Conditional vs. Unconditional Green Card: If you’ve been married for less than two years at the time your green card is approved, you’ll receive a conditional green card that’s valid for two years. You’ll need to apply to remove these conditions during the 90-day period before the card expires.
It’s recommended to consult with an immigration attorney or authorized representative to ensure that you’re following the correct process for your specific situation. Immigration laws and procedures can be complex, and having professional guidance can help ensure a smoother transition from F-1 status to a marriage-based green card.
What immigration forms I need to file when changing status from F-1 to marriage green card?
When changing status from F-1 to a marriage-based green card (lawful permanent residency), you’ll need to file a set of forms to initiate the process. Here are the main forms you’ll typically need to file:
- Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative: This form is filed by your U.S. citizen spouse to establish the qualifying relationship between you (the foreign spouse) and the petitioner (your U.S. citizen spouse). It’s the first step in the process and is used to prove the legitimacy of your marriage.
- Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status: This is the primary form for adjusting your status to that of a lawful permanent resident. It’s used to demonstrate your eligibility and intent to become a permanent resident. It includes information about your background, current immigration status, and other personal details.
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization: If you wish to work in the U.S. while your green card application is pending, you can file this form to apply for work authorization. This is especially useful if you’re not able to maintain your F-1 status while your green card application is in process.
- Form I-131, Application for Travel Document: If you need to travel outside the U.S. while your green card application is pending, you can file this form to obtain advance parole, which allows you to reenter the U.S. without abandoning your green card application.
- Form I-864, Affidavit of Support: This form is filed by the U.S. citizen petitioner to demonstrate their financial ability to support you, the intending immigrant, and prevent you from becoming a public charge. It’s a legally binding agreement to provide financial support until you become a U.S. citizen or have earned a specific number of work credits.
- Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record: This form requires you to undergo a medical examination by an authorized physician. The results are submitted with your application to demonstrate that you don’t have any health conditions that would make you inadmissible to the U.S.
- Form G-325A, Biographic Information (not always required): This form provides biographical information about you, such as your addresses, employment history, and family information. Note that Form G-325A is not always required, and its usage has become less common in recent years.
Please keep in mind that immigration forms and requirements can change, so it’s important to visit the official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website to download the most current versions of the forms and to verify the requirements before submitting your application. Additionally, it’s highly recommended to consult with an immigration attorney or authorized representative to ensure that you complete and submit the correct forms and supporting documents for your specific situation.
How much does it cost to change status from F-1 visa to marriage green card?
The costs associated with changing status from F-1 to a marriage-based green card (adjustment of status) can vary based on several factors, including changes in USCIS fees and whether you choose to file additional forms such as work authorization and travel documents. Please note that USCIS fees can change over time, so it’s important to verify the current fees on the official USCIS website before submitting your application. Here are some typical fees to consider:
- Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative): The fee for filing Form I-130, which is filed by the U.S. citizen spouse, can vary. The current fee is $535. However, this fee is subject to change, so be sure to check the USCIS website for the most up-to-date information.
- Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status): The filing fee for Form I-485 typically includes the application fee, the biometric services fee (for fingerprinting), and the cost of the green card itself. The total fee is usually around $1,225 for applicants 14-78 years old and $1,140 for applicants aged 79 and older. However, these fees can change, so confirm the current fees on the USCIS website.
- Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization): If you choose to apply for work authorization (Form I-765) while your green card application is pending, the fee is typically around $550. This fee is subject to change, so verify the current fee on the USCIS website.
- Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document): If you want to obtain advance parole (permission to travel while your green card application is pending), the fee for Form I-131 is usually around $575. This fee can also change, so check the USCIS website for the latest fee information.
- Form I-693 (Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record): The cost of the medical examination by an authorized physician for Form I-693 can vary based on the doctor’s fees and location.
- Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support): There is no filing fee for Form I-864, which is filed by the U.S. citizen petitioner to demonstrate financial support.
USCIS fees can change, and additional fees may apply depending on your specific circumstances. Always refer to the USCIS website or consult with an immigration attorney for the most up-to-date and accurate fee information before submitting your application.