Question Details:I am on F1 and on OPT right now. My fiance has a green card. We will be married in 3 months. As I did my research and get to know that she needs for an to file I 130 first and then I 485 for me. My questions are: 1) How much time will it take for me to get GC? 2) I can get an opt extension up to 10 months from now; if I could not get GC by then what should I do to be in US legally? 3) I know one option is to file H1b from my employer; can I go back to F1 and do some more study after OPT ends? 4) In the wait time can I go back to my country and come back without any problem? Should I speak with an immigration law attorney? In Dallas County, TX.
You are correct in that your future wife will need to submit a I-130 petition on your behalf. However, since she is only a green card holder and not a US citizen, she cannot confer any immediate immigration benefits on you. You will need to have the I-130 approved and then wait until a visa number becomes available for the family based preference under which the I-130 will be filed (F2A) or until your wife can become a US citizen (whichever happens first). Only then will you be eligible to apply for your I-485.
Until that time, you will need to remain in lawful status in the US. That means that if you are now in F-1 status, you will need to probably have your employer petition for your H-1B visa on the basis of your job to ensure that you maintain lawful status. Another option is, as you indicate yourself, to continue your studies, such as a graduate program or post-graduate, whatever the case may be. You will NOT be permitted to reenter as a F-1 once your wife petitions for you, as the filing of that petition indicates immigrant intent and you are not permitted to have immigrant intent as a F-1 student. However, if you change status to H-1B, that is a dual intent status and that will permit you to travel internationally while you wait to be eligible to file I-485.
You should discuss your situation with an immigration attorney if you have any additional specific questions. Good luck to you.