If you are currently in the United States on a B-1 or B-2 visa and married to a U.S. citizen or green card holder it may be possible for you to apply for “Adjustment of Status.”
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) has strict requirements regarding which forms to submit, the supporting documentation that is needed, and who can apply for Adjustment of Status (AOS).
There are many reasons why someone with a B-1 or B-2 visa may change their status, including reunification with their spouses who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
If you are not sure which type of visa you currently have, here is a list of activities usually associated with each visa:
This visa is for business purposes, including:
- Attending an educational convention or business conference
- Negotiating a business contract
- Consulting with business associates
A B-2 visa is often called a “tourist visa,” because it is often used for travel purposes. In addition to vacations and holidays, a B-2 visa can also be used for:
- Visiting relatives
- Medical treatment
- Participating in social or service organizations, including volunteer work
- Enrolling in a short-term recreational course
Both the B-1 and B-2 visas allow you to stay in the United States for up to 180 days without an extension.
If you have been in the U.S. on a B-1 or B-2 visitor visa and have married a permanent resident or U.S. citizen, you may be able to apply for a marriage-based green card.
Applying for a Marriage-Based Green Card
To change your status to a marriage-based green card while in the U.S., you need to go through the process known as “Adjustment of Status.”
This process is different from “Consular Processing,” which involves applying for a spousal visa from your home country.
Although the processes are similar in some ways, if you are planning on applying while staying in the U.S., there are specific criteria and legal rules that you will need to be aware of.
If you are present in the U.S. on a B-1/B-2 visa and apply for a marriage-based green card, you may face additional challenges and increased scrutiny.
Specifically, to obtain a visitor visa, you declared your intention as a nonimmigrant to return to your home country before the 6-month period lapses.
By changing your intention and applying for a green card, USCIS may look more closely at the details of your situation, including posing additional questions about your original intentions when you arrived in the U.S.
Consider the “90-Day Rule”
If you anticipate potential scrutiny from USCIS, one way to plan ahead is to wait 90 days after your most recent arrival on a B-1/B-2 visa before filing your marriage-based green card application.
This is known as the “90-Day Rule.”
Although the “90-Day Rule” is not a mandatory waiting period, it follows the unofficial guidelines that the USCIS considers when evaluating the Adjustment of Status requests from B-1/B-2 visas to marriage-based green cards.
It is important to take these considerations seriously because your green card application could be denied if USCIS believes you were not honest about your intention to depart the United States when you submitted your B-1/B-2 visa application.
How Long Does the Adjustment of Status Take?
The processing time for Adjustment of Status can vary based on individual circumstances.
Although USCIS publishes estimates of the average processing times for these types of applications, it is not possible to predict the exact time you will receive a decision.
However, working with bwea.com means you will save time during the application process and avoid lengthy delays caused by missing documentation or submitting incorrect forms.
If you are looking for an approximate timeframe, there are a few estimates that are generally accepted as the normal range.
For B-1/B-2 visa holders who are married to U.S. citizens, your application could be processed in as little as 6-8 months.
However, it can sometimes take as long as 15 months or longer to completely process applications for green cards.
This timeline assumes that you will not need to request an extension of your B-1/B-2 visa.
If you are worried about your green card application being delayed or have questions about how to get started, bwea.com can help.
What Government Forms are Needed?
To request an Adjustment of Status from a B-1/B-2 visa to a marriage-based green card, you will need to submit the following immigration forms:
- Form I-130 and I-130A (Petition for Alien Relative)
- Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status)
- Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support)
- Form I-693 (Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record)
- Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization)
- Form I-131 (Application for Advance Parole)
This government form is known as the family sponsorship form or the “Petition for Alien Relative.” Your sponsor spouse will need to complete Form I-130 and submit it to the USCIS. Both, U.S. citizens and permanent residents (green card holders) are authorized to complete this form for their spouses.
This immigration form is known as “Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary”. I-130A is filed only by spouses of U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
You will need to complete Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status.
- Form I-485 can be filed at the same time as I-130 if the sponsoring spouse is a U.S. citizen. This is called “Concurrent Filing.”
- In general, spouses of permanent residents must wait before the Form I-130 is approved to file their Form I-485 application. However, if the “visa number” is available for spouses of permanent residents, then Form I-485 can be filed at the same time as Form I-130. To see if your “visa number” is currently available you need to check the most recent U.S. Visa Bulletin. Find your category F2A (spouses of permanent residents) and your country of birth. If your category says “C” (stands for “Current”), then you should be able to file I-485 application at the same time or before Form I-130 is filed.
Immigration law is one of the most complex areas of American law, so we recommend consulting with an immigration attorney before filing your application. We offer a free 30-minute consultation where you can discuss your case with our attorneys. Schedule a free consultation now.
This form is known as “Affidavit of Support.” It is used to show that the sponsor has adequate financial resources to support you. USCIS wants to ensure that, if they approve your green card application, you are not likely to rely on government (public) benefits to cover your needs.
This is an application for employment authorization. The purpose of this form is to obtain permission to work in the U.S. while your green card application is being processed.
This is an application for “Advance Parole” which is an authorization to travel abroad for a short period of time while your green card application is pending.
A medical examination is required when filing Form I-485.
Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, will be prepared by a medical doctor in the U.S., who is referred to as a “civil surgeon.”
Only certain civil surgeons approved by USCIS are authorized to conduct medical examinations and sign Form I-693.
Form I-693 is used by the civil surgeon to record your medical results.
Do not sign Form I-693 until instructed to do so by the doctor.
The completed form will be given to you in a sealed envelope; do not open this envelope. USCIS requires that Form I-693 be submitted with the seal intact.
What are the Costs of Applying for a Marriage Green Card?
USCIS charges government fees for processing immigration applications.
Sometimes, there are additional charges, such as biometrics processing fees (paid to USCIS), medical exam fees (paid to the doctor’s office) or legal fees (paid to immigration attorney).
- The current filing fee for Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, is $535.
- The current filing fee for Form I-485 is $1,225 for applicants ages 14–78.
- The medical exam (Form I-693) fees range from $200 to $600.
- Total cost: $1,960-$2,360.
Keep in mind that USCIS updates its fees from time to time. To see the most recent filing fees, visit the USCIS Fee Calculator.
Additional Documentation and Costs
In addition to the government and medical exam fees, applicants may need to submit additional forms and supporting documents depending on their individual circumstances.
bwea.com can help you with this process by helping to review your case for eligibility, preparing your forms, and filing them with the USCIS. Our customer support team is available to assist and answer any questions while your application is pending.
Is There a Difference Between Marriage to a Permanent Resident and a U.S. Citizen?
Yes. The process and timeline for obtaining a marriage-based green card may vary depending on whether you are married to a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident.
Some aspects of your application process will look the same, but one part of your marriage-based green card journey that will be different is the time frame associated with visa numbers.
If you married a U.S. citizen, a visa number is immediately available to you when Form I-130 is submitted.
However, if you are married to a permanent resident, you might need to wait until your visa number becomes current.
This tends to slow the process of obtaining your marriage green card.
To find out if the visa number is current for your F2A category (spouses of permanent residents), check the most recent U.S. Visa Bulletin.
Find your category F2A and your country of birth. If your category says “C” which stands for “Current”, it means you can file Form I-485 at the same time or before Form I-130 is approved.
Another instance in which this difference matters is if you:
- Overstayed your B-1/B-2 visa, and/or
- Were employed in the U.S. without authorization.
If your spouse is a U.S. citizen, your visa overstay can be waived, and you could potentially continue to pursue your marriage green card.
However, if you are married to a permanent resident and have overstayed your visa or worked in the U.S. without authorization, USCIS might deny your green card application. If you have ever violated your B1/B2 terms, you will need to consult an immigration attorney before filing any forms with USCIS.
Employment Authorization When Waiting for a Marriage Green Card
Nonimmigrant visitors in the U.S. on a B-1/B-2 visa are not allowed to accept employment in the country.
However, if you have filed your marriage-based green card, you may be able to obtain employment authorization by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, depending on which stage of the process you are in.
USCIS allows you to apply for employment authorization if you have a pending Form I-485.
If you want to obtain employment in the U.S. while you wait for a decision on your marriage-based green card, you must file Form I-765.
Once your green card application is approved, you will not need to renew your employment authorization.
Your green card will make you a lawful permanent resident and serves as proof of your ability to work in the United States.
Getting Started – What Documents Will You Need?
To change your status from a B-1/B-2 visa to a marriage-based green card, you will need to provide various documents to USCIS.
Form I-130, which is filed by your spouse, should typically be accompanied by documents that prove that:
- Your spouse is a permanent resident or U.S. citizen.
- Your relationship is legally valid.
- Your relationship is not fraudulent (substantial proof of good faith marriage must be provided)
You may also need to provide documents that show any name changes for you or your spouse and provide proof of your nationality.
You can start filling out the application prior to having all these documents, but you must include them before finalizing and submitting the forms to the USCIS.
You can find the checklist of required documents for applying for a marriage green card after entering on B-1/B-2 visa below:
Will a B-1/B-2 Visa Extension Be Required?
Overstaying your tourist visa or business visa comes with serious consequences, including being barred from coming back to the U.S.
If your visa timeframe is close to expiring or you are married to a green card holder and anticipate that the green card process will take longer than the six months that you are permitted to stay in the U.S., you should consider requesting an extension.
B-1/B-2 visas can be extended for up to six months in addition to the original six months by filing Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status with USCIS.
Requesting an extension sooner rather than later is ideal, as waiting too long could lead to visa expiration and cause you to lose your visitor status.
However, if the period has lapsed and your visa is no longer valid, your green card application may be negatively affected.
Schedule a Free Consultation
Speak with an immigration attorney at bwea.com about how to maximize your chances of green card approval.
Obtaining a marriage-based green card can be an exciting but overwhelming process.
We want to help make it as easy as possible. Our flat-fee pricing means you will not be surprised by added legal expenses, and our comprehensive legal services ensure your immigration needs are taken care of.
The team at bwea.com has extensive experience and understanding of the U.S. immigration system, and we use that knowledge every day to help our clients gain marriage-based green cards.
When you are ready to put our expertise and knowledge to use for you, contact bwea.com to schedule a free consultation.