Changing your status from an F-1 to a marriage-based green card (a U.S. permanent resident) involves several steps and can be a complex process. Here is a general outline of the process:
- Get Married: First, you need to marry a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident (green card holder). Make sure your marriage is legally recognized in the United States.
- Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130): The U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse needs to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on your behalf. This form establishes the qualifying relationship between you and your spouse.
- Adjustment of Status (Form I-485): Once the I-130 is approved, you can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This is the form that allows you to change your status from a non-immigrant (F-1) to an immigrant (permanent resident). It’s important to file the I-485 while your F-1 status is still valid.
- Provide Supporting Documents: Along with the I-485 form, you’ll need to provide supporting documents, including:
- Copy of the I-130 approval notice.
- Proof of your relationship (marriage certificate).
- Passport-style photos.
- Proof of lawful entry (if applicable).
- Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record.
- Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) from your sponsoring spouse.
- Medical examination results (Form I-693).
- Other documents as required.
- Biometrics Appointment: You will be scheduled for biometrics (fingerprinting and photograph) at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Application Support Center.
- Interview: USCIS will schedule an interview to assess the validity of your marriage and determine your eligibility for a green card. You and your spouse will be required to attend this interview.
- Wait for Decision: After the interview, USCIS will make a decision regarding your application. If approved, you will be granted conditional permanent resident status, and a green card will be issued.
- Conditional Permanent Residence: In cases where your marriage is less than two years old at the time you obtain your green card, you will receive a conditional green card that is valid for two years.
- Removal of Conditions (Form I-751): Within the 90-day period before your conditional green card expires, you must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. This form is used to remove the conditions on your green card and obtain a 10-year permanent green card.
- Permanent Green Card: After successfully removing the conditions, you will be granted a 10-year permanent green card.
How much does it take to change status from F-1 to marriage green card?
The time it takes to change your status from an F-1 visa to a marriage-based green card can vary depending on several factors, including your specific circumstances, the processing times at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and whether there are any backlogs. Here is a rough estimate of the timeline:
- Marriage and I-130 Petition: The process typically begins with your marriage and the filing of the Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. This can take several months to process and be approved. USCIS processing times can be found on the USCIS website.
- Form I-485 and Adjustment of Status: Once the I-130 is approved, you can file Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status). The processing time for the I-485 application can also vary but may take several months.
- Biometrics Appointment: After filing the I-485, you’ll be scheduled for a biometrics appointment. This typically occurs a few weeks after filing.
- Interview: USCIS will schedule an interview to assess your eligibility for a green card. The interview usually takes place within several months after filing your I-485.
- Waiting for Decision: After the interview, it can take several months for USCIS to make a decision on your application.
- Conditional Permanent Residence: If your marriage is less than two years old at the time you obtain your green card, you will be granted conditional permanent resident status.
- Removal of Conditions (Form I-751): Within the 90-day period before your conditional green card expires, you must file Form I-751 to remove the conditions on your green card. This process can also take several months.
The entire process from the initial filing of the I-130 to obtaining a permanent green card can take anywhere from 12 months to 24 months or longer, depending on the complexity of your case, USCIS processing times, and whether any issues or delays arise during the application process. Please note that these timeframes are approximate and can vary significantly from case to case.