I d like to share my journey with the hopes of helping others out there.
I entered the USA legally over 30 years ago on a F1 Student VISA - but never took the initiative to act on it till 2 years ago. So here is my timeline. AND Abe patient because currently wait times are longer than they were when I filled.
We are a gay couple and got married in NYC - never left the USA all those years - if you have lived abroad they will need background checks from the embassies where you have lived.
So got married FEB 2016 in New York cIty - Hired an attorney because I no longer had any original documents and FOIA needed to be filled to prove that I entered the USA legally.
Waited for receipt of the paperwork, went to an authorized medical examiner - was able to actually bring in blood work from my primary dr instead of having to do more blood work. But they have to perform the tuberculosis tests and some other test themselves. Paid them around $200.00 - Came back to the lawyer with all the money ? ( he allowed me to make payments until before the interview)
Documentation was sent and USCIS received my case in May 2016. They issue both you and your lawyer a receipt letter. About 30 days later you go for your biometrics where they fingerprint and take your picture. You must keep the receipt as proof that you went. And you can t just go anytime you want. You will receive a letter with location and time of your appointment. You can reschedule the appointment but it s not advised that you do so as it will delay the process even longer. USCIS made a mistake and requested further evidence stating I didn t provide financial evidence from my sponsoring US Citizen. Which was not true. My lawyer is very competent and with years of experience. It was a money well spent to hire his services. In February 2017 we went in for the interview. It was nothing scary like the movies. But we obviously has more than enough substantial evidence. The more you can prove the better off you are. The interview was held in an office with me , my husband and my lawyer before the immigration officer. He asked a few expected simple questions and approved my case right there and then.
August 12th - Receive notice that my case was approved. And 1 week later ( 2 months after the biometric ) I received my work authorization as well as travel authorization. Ok Fantastic s now I could get a job which I did immediately.
The work Authorization card (EAD ) was valid for 1 year, while the green card is being processed. About 6 months later - March 2017 I received my green card in the mail. Unfortunately when I filled I was only married for 1 year, they issued a conditional green card that s only valid for 2 years. Now it s 90 days before the expiration date of the green card, so I just filled I-745 - Petition to remove conditions on a green card. A whole new process needs to take place, fees, biometrics and such. But then I will receive a 10 year green card. USCIS a will issue a notice extending your conditional green card while they work on your case.
This is has been my journey. So I hope it helps those out there.