It`s a personal experience of  adjusting your status to a a green card holder via marriage with a US citizen. The whole process was performed by my husband and myself, no lawyers were hired. So here is a real story how much time it take, what you need to do and how long it takes to become a permanent resident of the United States.

Ruskie
Ruskie

This method is suitable for married couples wherein one spouse is a US citizen or is a US green card holder.  The arriving spouse should have a legal reason to enter the country (tourist or business visa).

Here is my personal experience when I came as a tourist and became a permanent resident of the United States.

how to apply for green card

The conditions of applying for a green card are:

–              You have a visa to the US (if necessary);

–              You are married with an American citizen or a green card holder;

–              You are in the United States legally (your visa is not expired, you didn`t cross the border illegally, etc.)

I truly believe that this way is much faster and easier than to get a spousal visa or a fiancée visa.

According to the law, if you are staying legally in the territory of the US you have a right to apply to change your status.

An important point: Keep in mind that you will very likely need to explain why, when you came to the country, you described the purpose of coming as  “tourism” and suddenly changed your mind and decided to stay as a resident.  The explanation must be convincing, otherwise a change of mood may qualify as a “misrepresentation to the customs officer” or “bad faith” and your request to change your status will be refused.

Useful links:

USCIS

A description of who can apply for a green card using a family sponsor 

How to get a Green Card for an Immediate Relative of a U.S. Citizen

Documents:

  1. Forms to be filled out by the sponsor (US citizen or resident/green card holder):

G-325A, Biographic Information

I-130, Petition for Alien Relative

I-864, Affidavit of support

  1. The forms the applicant must to fill out:

G-325A, Biographic Information

I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status

I-131 a travel document (if you plan to leave the US while waiting for your green card for tourist or business purposes)

I-765 (if you plan to work)

Additional document and information:

А) The applicant`s birth certificate and apostille of the birth certificate;

  1. B) Information about the income of a person who filled out a form I-130 (records for last 3 years of income);
  2. C) A copy of the applicant`s passport;
  3. D) An examination and medical certification including information about the applicant’s vaccinations (it`s easier to get it in the US);
  4. E) A copy of the passport and a birth certificate of the US citizen/resident (your spouse);
  5. F) A copy of your marriage certificate;
  6. G) Any other documentation that can help to prove that your marriage is real (like a joined bank account, common property, or a car…).

How much does it cost to get a green card? 

The official information about the paying immigration fees you can find here.

Here is what you should expect to pay:

$985 and $420 for 2 forms.

Getting a travel parole requires no fee.

A medical exam costs about  $150-170 (if you already have all the required vaccines)  or

$450-600 if you need to get a vaccination done.

Translation (I spent $36 for it).

About document translations:

Only one document was translated in my case: my birth certificate and the attached apostille.

In order to certify the translation, I shopped around on the internet and found that prices varied greatly.  Some translation services, especially those recommended by the consulates and embassies, charge $50 per page.  Eventually, I found a company with a good price and a fast service ($18/a page). Here is a link and I personally can recommend this translation service as fast and reliable.

On the other hand self-translation implies a pretty good level of English.  If there is a doubt, the same company will make a translation and certify it for you for about $20 per page.

Procedure:

All the applications and the documents that you submit must be sent by mail.  The mailing address can found at the official USCIS web-site.

If one or more of the documents are missing you will be notified of it and will have a chance to mail it in or to bring it later.

The travel parole comes about 1-2 months after you apply for it. Because your visa (if you needed one) is not good anymore this is the only one document that will let you to come back to the United States if you cross the border.  So keep it safe and take it with you when travel.

Interview:

I was invited to the interview by mail.  Apparently in 2014-2015 there were so many applicants for  green cards that I wasn’t called to return for interview for over one year since I originally filed for the green card.  Like most of the bureaucratic procedures in the United States, being interviewed for Green Card is not something “terrible,” it a very well organized process.  And if you are prepared for it (mentally and with organized paperwork), then your appointment will transpire in a relaxed atmosphere.

Some notes about the process:

–              On the day of your interview, it is better to come at least an hour early, just to be safe in case of any last minute events: you may need to get something extra like photos, documents, prints, etc.

–              The most important thing for the interview, in my opinion, is to stick to the truth and stay confident.  Honestly, I was even a little disappointed as we were not asked many questions at all.  This is probably because we had all of our documents, we had photos of our weddings and holidays and we brought our child with us.  Also the fact that we had a “real wedding” with photos and family present, common property between us (car and bank account) and, obviously, a common child, I think that this helped us to pass the interview quickly.

The interview takes place in a special room.  An officer talked with 3 of us (my husband and I, and also our “plus one”) at the same time.  We were not separated; the officer treated us as a family.  And so, all the questions were answered by both of us.  We did not receive any news as to whether or not we passed the interview, we were told that the results will be sent by mail.

How long does it  take to get a green card through marrige?

We applied for a  Green Card in October 2014, and the interview was scheduled for October 2015.

Welcome to the United States!

Green Card prooved

I was informed that a green card was being issued by mail approximately one month after the interview.

My Green Card also arrived by mail a couple of days after the notification. And yes, the color of the card is green! :)

Recent updates: In 2017 I had to abandon my permanent residency in the US, because we moved to Spain. You can find a description of the process of giving up your green card here.