How Long Does it Take to Get a Green Card?

By Danielle Smyth - Updated February 23, 2018
United States resident card, immigration concept

If you hope to become a legal United States citizen, you must first become a permanent resident, or holder of what is known as a green card. After five years of being a legal resident of the United States, you become eligible to apply for citizenship. It’s a long road, and waiting for your green card can be stressful. But knowing what to expect from the process can help.

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Obtaining a green card can take as long as several years, depending on your circumstances and immigrant status. Certain factors, such as whether you have a spouse who is a U.S. citizen, may cut down the length of time the process will take.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Green Card?

The amount of time it takes to get a green card depends on your personal circumstances. In most cases, the card will arrive within a month after your application has been approved. But approval depends on a variety of factors, so from start to finish, being approved for a green card can sometimes take several years.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Green Card Interview?

The time from when you have applied for a green card to when you have your interview can vary widely. Often, the wait before your interview can be anywhere from four to 10 months. Once you have had the interview, you may receive a decision very quickly – some applicants report being informed the same day if they have been approved. In other instances, you will need to wait to hear about the decision. The USCIS reports a common misconception that decisions must be made within 180 days of the interview, but explains that, in fact, there is no time limit. However, the USCIS attempts to make all decisions within four months.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Green Card After Approval?

Once you have been approved for a green card, you should receive a welcome notice in the mail from the United States Citizen and Immigration Services. Shortly thereafter, you will receive your green card. You should receive both the welcome notice and green card within 30 days of approval of your permanent resident status.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Green Card After Marriage?

The time it takes to get your green card after marriage depends on the status of your spouse and your residence. If your spouse is a United States citizen and you live in the U. S., the green card process ranges between 10 and 13 months. If you live in the U.S. and marry a green card holder, the process can take as long as two to three years. If you live abroad and are married to a U.S. citizen, it can take about 11 to 19 months to obtain your green card, and if you live abroad and are married to a green card holder, the process can take two to three years.

How Long Is a Green Card Valid For?

Green cards are valid for 10 years if you are a permanent resident. If you are a conditional permanent resident, your green card will be valid for two years. If your green card is due to expire within six months, you should apply to renew or replace it. You can do so online using the United States Form I-90.

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Green Card?

The cost to obtain a green card varies depending on your immigration status. Form I-485, which you file to apply for permanent residency and your green card, costs $1,140 as of February 2018. The USCIS Immigrant Fee is $220, and the Biometric Services Fee is $85. A complete list of up-to-date fees is available on the USCIS website. Getting your green card is the first step on the long road to obtaining United States citizenship. With information on your side, the process can be that much easier.

About the Author

Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. Her experience includes years of work in the insurance, workers compensation, disability, and background investigation fields. In addition to being the content writer and social media manager for Alliance Worldwide Investigative Group, she has written on legal topics for a number of other clients. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing (www.wordsmythcontent.com), and she enjoys writing legal articles and blogs for clients in related industries.

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