There are many unmarried persons whose employment-based immigration petition is pending and who would like to get married at some point and would like to get their spouse to the U.S. as soon as possible after that. However, it is very important to plan ahead and take appropriate steps in order to avoid any delays.
If you get married any time before you become a permanent resident, you may bring your spouse almost immediately (maximum within 2 to 3 months) as a permanent resident to the U.S. Your spouse can apply for legal permanent residence status using your preference classification and priority date. However, if you get married after you become a permanent resident, you can only bring your spouse based on a Family Based Immigration category F2A which may take many years.
You become a permanent resident the day you enter United States with an immigrant visa. Until then, you are not a permanent resident, even after you get immigrant visa.
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There are several scenarios for getting married while the green card application is pending:
- Marriage before I-140 approval:
Simply add the spouse name in the I-140 application. Even if you did not include the spouse’s name, it is not a problem. Just follow scenario 2 below.
- Marriage after I-140 approval, but before filing for consular processing:
Include spouse name in DS-260 as a dependent who will be accompanying you. Also, complete DS-260 for your spouse. Your spouse will be able to attend the interview along with you.
- Marriage after returning the documents to NVC/consulate, but before the interview:
The consulate may not schedule your spouse’s interview along with you. You will attend your interview as planned. Bring your marriage certificate and completed DS-260 for your spouse to the interview. Please let the officer know that you recently got married and ask them to schedule an interview for your spouse. The interview will be scheduled within 60 days, approximately .
You can either wait for your spouse to go through consular processing and get an immigrant visa, and both of you go together, or you can go back to the U.S. with your immigrant visa and your spouse can enter the U.S. later as an immigrant once he/she gets the immigrant visa.
- Marriage after the immigrant visa interview, but before entering the U.S. as an immigrant:
You must get married and register your marriage before you can enter the U.S. as an immigrant. If possible, go to the consulate with your immigrant visa, your marriage certificate, completed DS-260 for your spouse, and ask them to schedule an interview for your spouse. The interview will be scheduled within 60 days, approximately.
If you can’t return to the consulate yourself, you should send (by mail or fax) a copy of I-551 (temporary green card stamp) that you will receive when you enter the U.S. as an immigrant. Your spouse should take that copy, your marriage certificate, and form DS-260. Your spouse’s interview will be scheduled approximately within 60 days.
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