How Long Do You Have To Be Married To Get A Green Card (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 2 Years

A green card refers to a document that denotes that the person holding the card has permanent residency in the United States or the U.S. The green card is officially recognized as a permanent resident card and thus can be used anywhere as an identity document showing the residential status of the person.

The United States government provided people with a green card who get the status of permanent resident in the U.S. Thus, green cards can also be for the family members and immediate relatives of U.S citizens or U.S permanent residents.

Formally, people holding green cards are called as LPRs that stands for lawful permanent residents of the United States. Out of all the green card holders, some are eligible to become United States citizens, and not all. The green card has been given the name ‘green’ as it is greenish.

How Long Do You Have To Be Married To Get A Green Card

How Long Do You Have To Be Married To Get A Green Card?

The duration to be married to get a green card2 years
Total waiting time for a marriage-based green card9 to 36 months

Application for obtaining the green card is decided by the USCIS i.e United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. By having a green card i.e permanent resident card, one can live and work permanently in the United States without any hassle.

The eligibility requirement for each person for availing of the green card would vary as per the status of each individual. The green card can also be understood as a permanent resident ID issued to immigrants in the U.S. if they are fulfilling the eligibility criteria for the same.

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The green card has validity and thus has to be renewed after every 10 years. It should be always be remembered that if a person is eligible for a green card i.e if a person is a permanent resident of the U.S, such person can be fined or jailed if they do not possess a valid green card of their name.

However, people who have shifted to the United States after a recent marriage and are intending to be permanent residents of the U.S cannot apply for a green card immediately after their marriage. Such people will become eligible to have a green card after 2 years from the date of marriage.

Why Does It Take So Long After Marriage To Get A Green Card?

After marriage, the spouse of the U.S citizen or lawful permanent resident can apply for a green card to get the status of permanent residency. However, one can apply for the same only after 24 months of successful completion of the marriage.

Such a type of green card is also referred to as a marriage green card or spouse green card. The duration of procedural formalities to be completed would depend on whether the spouse is living inside or outside the United States.

It should be kept in mind that the formalities to be complied with and the time duration for getting a valid marriage-based green card would depend on the status of the person one has married to. The timeframe in case of marriage to U.S citizens and U.S. green card holders would naturally be different due to disparity in individual status.

The steps to apply for a marriage-based green card are as follows. Firstly, apply for a visa petition. Secondly, the married couple would have to attend an interview at the USCIS office wherein several questions will be asked to assess the validity of the marriage.

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If the interview goes well, the immigrant would be eligible for conditional resident status. The immigrant would then spend 2 years as a conditional resident which is the minimum requirement of years after marriage to apply for a permanent U.S residentship via a green card.

One should remember that marriage to a U.S. citizen makes one eligible only for a green card i.e proof of permanent residency in the U.S and not for U.S citizenship. However, consistently and validly holding a green card makes a person eligible for citizenship.


A green card is a proof of being a lawful permanent resident of the United States. Immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen which covers even the spouse of the U.S citizen can become green card holders on successful compliance with the necessary eligibility requirements.

Marriage is one of the most common ways to qualify for a green card. The spouse of both a U.S citizen and U.S green cardholder is eligible for an immigration benefit and thus, the immigrant can apply for green after 2 years of marriage.

However, to apply for a green card after 2 years of marriage one has to prove that there has been a genuine marriage backed with a valid marriage certificate and other supporting documents.



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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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