As a Miami immigration lawyer, I have spoken with some individuals who are applying for a green card (lawful permanent residence) based on marriage to a permanent resident (green card holder). Sometimes, these applicants want to know if they can avoid the Visa Preference System and long waiting period by simply waiting for their spouse to become a U.S. citizen. Below are some frequently asked questions.

How long will I have to wait if I am applying for a green card through my spouse, who is a permanent resident of the United States?

As the spouse of a lawful permanent resident, in category 2A, you are likely to wait around three to five years for a visa number, and therefore a green card, to become available to you. If you have any questions in regard to this, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration attorney.

Should I wait for my spouse to become a U.S. citizen before applying for my green card?

The short answer is – no. You don’t really gain anything by waiting for the petitioning spouse to become a U.S. citizen. In fact, you could actually lose time if your spouse’s citizenship gets delayed. However, please note that every case is different. Before you take any steps, I would urge you to consult with a Miami green card immigration lawyer.

I would like to obtain my green card through my petitioning spouse, who is a permanent resident of the United States. What are your thoughts?

No matter what, your spouse will have to submit the visa petition (USCIS Form I-130), even after he or she becomes a U.S. citizen. The form to use is the same, no matter your spouse’s status. After U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves the I-130, your approval notice will remain good even after your spouse becomes a citizen. In other words, your spouse could file the I-130 now and put you on the waiting list — but if he or she becomes a citizen while you’re waiting for your Priority Date to become current, you would automatically become an immediate relative, and could file the rest of your green card paperwork right away. If you’re lucky, or if your spouse’s citizenship gets delayed, your Priority Date might become current before he or she becomes a citizen. In that case, you would definitely be happy that your spouse had filed the Form I-130 without waiting. Again, please note that every person’s case is different, and you should absolutely consult with a Miami immigration attorney before moving forward.

If you have any questions in regard to obtaining your green card through a marriage-based petition, please contact Miami immigration lawyer Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305) 895-2500 or visit our website at

Coronavirus update: We are safely open for business! USCIS is still accepting new filings for all applications. Our office is offering virtual consultations for new clients so that you don't have to come to our office in person. Call us to schedule your virtual meeting today.
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