How to Obtain a Green Card through Marriage
This blogs explains the green card application process after a US citizen or US permanent resident marries a foreign national.
It happened, you fell in love with someone born in a different country. You may then decide to get married in the United States or in their country. In any event, the wedding means tying the knot with the person of your dreams and finding a way to spend the rest of your life living together with your spouse. However, your new spouse needs the authorization to remain in the United States. This is why the couple needs to learn how to apply for a green card or permanent residence to live in the United States.
A green card is a legal document issued by the federal government that grants a foreign national permanent residency in the United States. It is given by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). A Green Card through marriage allows you to work and live in the US as a legal permanent resident. The card is legally acceptable for the stated period of time prior to renewing it.
If you apply for your green card after two years of marriage, you will receive the IR1 category green card for a period of ten years and can be renewed indefinitely. If you apply for your green card before your two year wedding anniversary, then, you will be given a CR1 (conditional residency). This card is not permanent and requires you to petition to remove the conditions on the residence in the 90 day period before its expiration date.
Who Is Eligible for Marriage Green Card?
In order to become an eligible candidate for obtaining a marriage green card, the USCIS requires the following:
Your Marriage Is Legitimate
The USCIS is well aware of people who enter into fake marriages in order to work and live in the US, which is why you will have to present documents of proof of marriage to the USCIS. These documents will confirm that you and your spouse are establishing a life together to verify that your marriage is in good faith.
Your Marriage Should Be to a US Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident
If you are married to a US citizen, and you qualify for permanent residency, you can submit a green card application at the same time as your spouse files the petition on your behalf. A foreign national, after marrying a US citizen, obtains the status of an immediate relative and an immigrant visa is immediately available. On the other hand, if you marry a US lawful permanent resident, you may not apply for your green card at the same time as your spouse files the petition on your behalf. If you marry a US permanent resident, you are considered a preference relative, and an immigrant visa is not immediately available; thus there is usually a waiting period.
You and Your Spouse Must be Single and Able to Marry
In case you were married to someone else previously, you will be required to submit proof of death certificate, divorce judgment, or any other document as evidence that you are no longer married to your previous spouses.
Your Marriage Is Legal
Your marriage is considered legally valid by the USCIS for the purpose of immigration as long as your marriage is officially recognized by the government of the country where you got married, and neither party is already married at the time of marriage.
Steps to Apply for a Green Card through Marriage
After determining your eligibility for a green card, you need to follow these steps:
Step 1: Submission of Forms and Supporting Documents
The primary step in the course of filing for a green card through marriage is filling out the Petition of Alien Relative – Form I-130 by a US citizen or lawful permanent resident. You will have to submit your marriage certificate, along with this form and other relevant documents, as proof of a legal marriage. For instance, you can show pictures of you and your spouse from the wedding, a joint lease, or a joint bank account statement. Once you have compiled all of the supporting documents and the I-130 petition is complete and signed, submit it to the relevant USCIS address.
Step 2: Applying for Your Green Card
If you meet the requirements set by USCIS, you qualify to apply for a green card in the US.
Adjustment of Status
If you are living in the US at the moment and you qualify for a green card, you will have to file an Adjustment of Status application Form I-485. This form enables you to adjust the status from the visa you are currently holding to a green cardholder. In addition to filing this form, you will also have to submit the following:
- Passport and proof of lawful admission into the US (such as prior visa or I-94 travel record);
- Documents proving that your spouse is going to provide you with financial support in the US;
- Proof of having a valid immigration medical examination;
- Your birth certificate;
- And others.
If you qualify, you can submit a Form I-485 at the time of submitting the Form I-130, if your spouse is a US citizen. This process is known as “filing concurrently.” However, if your spouse is a green card holder, you may be required to wait for the petition to be approved and for the immigrant visa to become available before you can submit the I-485 form. The US Department of State monthly publishes a visa bulletin disclosing the immigrant visa availability.
If you are residing out of the US, you will have to go through a process known as “consular processing” in order to apply for an immigrant visa that gives you a green card. Under this process, you will be required to stay within your country until the USCIS approves the I-130 petition. Your approved I-130 will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC), and you will receive a notice with important information and instructions about the next steps in your immigrant visa process. You must submit the following to the NVC:
- Police clearance certificates;
- Your DS-260 application and proof of visa payment;
- Affidavit of Support and evidence that your green card holder or US citizen spouse is going to provide financial assistance to you;
- Proof of your nationality and residence;
- 2×2 passport-style photos.
Step 3: Green Card Interview
If you are in the United States, the last step is the green card interview with you and your spouse at a local USCIS office. The purpose of conducting an interview is to determine the legitimacy of your marriage and if you are admissible to the United States as a green cardholder. The interviewing officer will inquire about your married life, your bond with your spouse, and your long-term plans while living in the US.
Once your green card is approved, USCIS will mail it to your US address. You should then make a note of the expiration date of the green card. As stated above, cards that are category CR1 require an additional process called removal of conditions, Form I-751, before the permanent card is granted.
A Final Note
The process of applying for a marriage green card usually takes a long time and can cost a lot of money. You should consult with an immigration attorney that can analyze your individual situation and ensure you and your spouse qualify for the immigration benefit you seek. A strong petition and application package that meet all the legal requirements are crucial for the approval of the green card. Doing it right the first time is always recommended to avoid unnecessary delays and costs.
At Terra Immigration, we have helped individuals from all over the world receive their visas and green cards. It is essential that you work with a professional that can give you an honest assessment as well as help you achieve your objectives. If you have any questions, you can speak to Attorney Ileana Rivera or Ingrid Perez. Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 407-818-1244.