How Long Does It Take USCIS To Process Marriage Green Cards for a Spouse Abroad?

In a Nutshell

As the petitioner for your foreign spouse, you’ll file Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It’s currently taking between 12.5 to 36.5 months for USCIS to process Form I-130 for U.S. citizenship petitioners and 14.5 to 46 months for permanent resident petitioners. As the beneficiary, your spouse will file Form DS-260 with the National Visa Center. The current NVC timeframe for creating and reviewing cases is 32 days, 6 days less than last week.

Written by Jonathan PettsLegally reviewed by ImmigrationHelp Team
Updated May 19, 2023

Updated May 19, 2023

Form I-130 Processing Times

Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative is the first form you must file to start the marriage green card application process. A U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident must file this form on behalf of their spouse. Five USCIS service centers process Form I-130. 

Here are the current processing times for Form I-130 petitions for U.S. citizens filing for a spouse:

USCIS Service CenterLast WeekThis WeekChange?
California Service Center14.5 months14.5 monthsNo change
Nebraska Service Center14.5 months14.5 monthsNo change
Potomac Service Center16 months16 monthsNo change
Texas Service Center13 months13 monthsNo change
Vermont Service Center14.5 months14.5 monthsNo change
All Field Offices32.5 months32.5 monthsNo change

Here are the current processing times for Form I-130 petitions for lawful permanent residents filing for a spouse:

USCIS Service CenterLast WeekThis WeekChange?
California Service Center26 months26 monthsNo change
Nebraska Service Center16 months16 monthsNo change
Potomac Service Center26 months26 monthsNo change
Texas Service Center27.5 months27.5 monthsNo change
Vermont Service Center37.5 months37.5 monthsNo change
All Field Offices38 months38 monthsNo change

Form DS-260 Processing Times 

Form DS-260: Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application is the second marriage green card form you and your spouse must file to get a marriage-based green card through consular processing. The beneficiary — the spouse who’s applying to become a green card holder — must submit this form online to the National Visa Center via the Consular Electronic Application Center.

Here are the current NVC timeframes for creating and reviewing cases:

National Visa CenterLast WeekThis WeekChange?
Case Creation Time24 days19 days- 5 days
Case Review Time14 days13 days- 1 day
Total NVC Processing Time38 days32 days- 6 days

To get a marriage green card, immigration law requires your foreign spouse to interview at a local U.S. embassy or consulate. Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of State does not currently release actual average wait times for interviews by location. Note that this is an additional factor to consider when calculating how long you’ll have to wait to complete consular processing.

How Long Will My Marriage Green Card Application Take?

Getting a marriage green card through consular processing can take 27–46 months. Several factors influence wait times, including processing delays — such as the continued backlog due to the pandemic — and staffing or budget issues at your USCIS office or service center.

Marriage green card cases with a foreign-based spouse involve several other agencies as well. USCIS starts the process when it receives your Form I-130. Then, USCIS transfers your case to the NVC. Beneficiaries will have to wait for a visa number and check the visa bulletin to determine their eligibility to apply for a green card. The NVC will request and process supporting documents, such as an affidavit of support that shows your spouse meets certain income requirements and evidence that your relationship is “bona fide” or legitimate. 

As part of the process, beneficiaries will get a medical examination, attend a biometrics appointment (fingerprinting), and attend a green card interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. Each of these steps takes time. To learn more, read our Guide To Marriage Green Cards Through Consular Processing

Why Is My Green Card Taking So Long?

If you’re wondering what’s happening with your marriage green card case, you can check your case status online using the receipt number from your application receipt notice. Our Learning Center contains several articles that can help you understand your case status.

If your application is outside the normal green card timeline for your case, you can contact USCIS to ask for additional information. If you still have questions or need legal advice, we can connect you to an immigration attorney for $24/month through our Ask an Attorney program.