How long does a US citizen have to court a non-citizen before he/she can marry and petition the spouse to become a permanent resident so they can live in the US together forever and start their family. How long do you have to wait before starting the paper work, is there such a thing as too soon, or too long( time wise). What criteria does the petitioner have to meet. what can be done to ensure that it goes smoothly, are there any good attorney referrals here that can help with the process. Also after the documents are filed how long will it take, and what documents would be required of the spouses. Thank You. Also does immigration check credit reports?