What is a Marriage Green Card?
If you are married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and are looking to live and work in the United States as a permanent resident, you will need to apply for a marriage green card. The application process can take anywhere between several months to several years to complete, and the foreign citizen must pass a background check and an immigration medical examination to be approved for the green card.
The foreign citizen’s spouse must file an I-130 petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to start the process. Additionally, the foreign citizen must prove that the marriage is legitimate and not just a way to obtain immigration benefits.
Once the foreign citizen’s marriage green card is issued, they can apply for U.S. citizenship after three or five years of marriage (depending on the petitioner’s immigration status).
Obtaining a marriage green card can be a lengthy and complex process if you don’t have the right guidance. Below we will discuss the marriage green card eligibility, application process and the processing timelines.
Are You Eligible for a Marriage Green Card?
If you are already married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you may be eligible to apply for a marriage green card. In order to apply, you must provide proof of a valid marriage and meet the requirements for a spousal visa.
It is important to note that in order to obtain a marriage green card, you must demonstrate that the marriage is not a sham. The U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is sponsoring the immigrant must also meet certain income requirements to demonstrate that the intended immigrant will not become a public charge.
Finally, you must also be admissible to the United States as an immigrant. This means you must not have had any criminal convictions or violated any immigration laws in the past. You must pass a medical examination and prove that you are not a threat to the national security of the United States.
You are Married to a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident
Obtaining a green card through marriage is an option for those who are married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR). The process requires the U.S. citizen or LPR spouse to file a petition for the foreign-born spouse to become a permanent resident. To prove the marriage is legitimate, the following evidence must be provided:
- Joint bank account statements;
- Joint lease;
- Joint utility bills;
- Birth certificates of children born into marriage;
- Proof of joint travel;
- Witness affidavits;
- Joint health insurance;
- Joint life insurance;
- Joint car insurance;
- Joint mortgage;
- Proof of joint assets.
The couple must then attend an interview with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to prove the marriage is not a sham. After the interview is completed and approved, the foreign-born spouse will receive a green card that serves as proof of permanent residency and employment authorization. After three or five years of being a permanent resident, the foreign-born spouse will also be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.
How Do You Apply for a Marriage Green Card?
Marriage to a U.S. citizen is one of the most common ways to obtain a green card. If you are looking to obtain a green card through marriage, you must first understand the application process and gather the necessary documents. The first step in the application process is preparing Forms I-130 and I-130A and the supporting documents for each form. These forms and documents can be found on the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) website free of charge. Once the forms are filled out and properly signed, you will need to submit them to the USCIS, along with the required government filing fee of $535.
The following immigration forms must be filed with USCIS if the foreign citizen spouse resides in the U.S.:
- Form I-130
- Form I-130A
- Form I-485
- Form I-864
- Form I-765
- Form I-131
- Form I-693
The following immigration forms must be filed with USCIS and the US Department of State if the foreign citizen spouse resides abroad:
- Form I-130
- Form I-130A
- Form DS-260
- Form I-864
- Medical examination
After all the immigration forms and the supporting documents are properly filed with the appropriate government agency, the applicant (and their spouse, if residing in the US) will be called in for an interview. This interview is to ensure that the marriage is legitimate. Following the interview, the couple will receive a notification concerning the status of the application. If approved, the applicant will receive a conditional green card and will be allowed to live and work in the U.S. for a period of two years.
90 days before the end of the two-year period, the couple will need to file a joint petition to remove the conditions on the green card (Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence). After the petition to remove conditions is approved, the foreign national spouse will be granted a 10-year green card.
Step 1: Submit Form I-130
The first step is to fill out Form I-130 and Form I-130A with USCIS. This form is used to establish a valid marriage between the U.S. citizen or permanent resident and the foreign national. It is important to include all the required information when preparing the Form I-130. In addition, a filing fee of $535 must be included with the form. Supporting documentation such as marriage certificate, birth certificates, and evidence of bona fide marriage should also be included.
Once the form is properly filled out and submitted, it will be reviewed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). They will then make a decision regarding the application. It is important to make sure that all the requested information and documents are provided. This will help to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.
Step 2: Apply for Your Marriage Green Card
If you are already married to a U.S. citizen and living in the United States, you can submit the I-130 form and other documents along with an I-485 form, which is the application for an Adjustment of Status (AOS). On the other hand, if you are living abroad, you will need to submit the I-130 petition first and only after I-130 is approved, you can submit Form DS-260, which is the application for an Immigrant Visa with the National Visa Center (NVC).
If you reside abroad, once USCIS has received and approved your petition, the next step is an interview at a U.S. consulate in your home country. The interview is the final step to determine whether your marriage is genuine and that you are eligible for a green card. If you pass the interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, you will be issued an immigrant visa valid for 6 months that will allow you to enter the U.S. and become a permanent resident.
Step 3: Attend Your Green Card Interview and Receive Your Green Card
Before attending the green card interview at the local USCIS office or U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad, you should make sure that you have all the necessary original documents ready. During the interview, you will need to answer questions about your marriage and relationship with your spouse. It is important to be honest and provide evidence that the marriage is legitimate. If the interviewer finds any discrepancies in your answers or evidence, they may request additional documents. After completing the interview, you may be asked to wait for the interviewer to review your documents and make a decision. If you pass the interview, you will be issued a green card or an immigrant visa.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Marriage Green Card?
The average timeline for a green card application through marriage is about 3-18 months depending on foreign spouse’s current country of residence and the backlogs at USCIS and US Department of State. A foreign-born person can complete the process by either applying from abroad or by adjusting their status within the United States (if eligible).
If a foreign-born spouse does not possess a valid nonimmigrant visa (such as a tourist or student visa), he/she may be eligible for an interview at a U.S. consulate abroad. If foreign-born spouse is physically present in the U.S. on a valid nonimmigrant visa, he/she might apply for adjustment of status with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office in the United States. Once all the paperwork is completed and the interview is successfully passed, the foreign-born spouse will receive their green card.
Although the process of obtaining a green card through marriage can be lengthy and complex, it is definitely attainable with the right help and patience. It is important to seek help from an experienced immigration attorney to ensure that all the paperwork is properly filed and that the foreign-born spouse is prepared for the interview. Following all the steps and understanding the process will help ensure a successful outcome for the green card application through marriage.
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