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Green Card through marriage


Green Card Through Marriage is a way for a foreign individual to adjust status to a permanent resident.

U.S. Citizen and a permanent resident may petition for his or her spouse and unmarried children of any age to immigrate to the United States.  Spouses of U.S. Citizens are considered immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and immigrant visas are immediately available for them.  Spouses of Green card holders have to wait before applying for a Green card after their spouse’s Petition for Alien Relative is approved  until the immigrant visa becomes current in the category “F2A.” See Visa Bulletin

Before considering a green card through marriage, the couple has to be free to marry, meaning that neither person is already married to someone else. 

Fiance of the U.S. citizen  who is already in the United States or who can come to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program or any other valid visa does not need to obtain a K-1 Fiancé visa.  However, the couple has to wait for at least 60 days after fiance’s valid entry to the U.S. before getting married to avoid fraud charges. The Couple can get married in any state, including Hawaii.

If the alien fiance of the U.S. Citizen is not in the U.S. and he or she has no valid visa to enter the U.S. then the U.S. citizen fiance should file a Petition for a K-1,  Fiancé Visa so the alien fiance can legally enter the U.S. on a valid K-1 visa to get married within 90 days of his or her arrival.  Once the couple gets married, the alien can file for Adjustment of Status. Alternatively, the couple could get married abroad. In this case, the U.S. spouse should Petition for his or her spouse for a green card through marriage.

The Petitioner is a U.S. citizen:

Green card through marriage

Once the couple is married, the following package needs to be filed with USCIS:

Documents Required To Obtain a Green Card Through Marriage

  • The petitioner’s proof of citizenship, such as a passport or certified birth certificate;Green card through marriage
  • Certified marriage certificate (make sure it is not a marriage license);
  • Certified copies of prior divorces if applicable;
  • Foreign national’s birth certificate with the corresponding translation;
  • Passport size photos;
  • Evidence of bona fide marriage!!!
  • Most recent tax return, W-2 or 1099 forms, and the most recent pay stubs for sponsor;
  • Filing fees.

Evidence of Bona Fide Marriage

  • Proof of prior communications (printouts). Don’t limit yourselves to just e-mail and chat. Use postcards, greeting cards, overseas calls;
  • Receipts, passport with travel stamps, boarding passes, credit card charges, money transfers;
  • Lease in both names;
  • Joint Bank account statements are strong indications of a relationship;
  • Life insurances, health insurances;
  • Pictures of your wedding and other family events; include your parents in the pictures;
  • Birth certificates of children born to you;
  • Affidavits (statements under the oath) of your relatives/friends that they know about your relationship.

Be ready to answer questions about the evidence you have provided to USCIS at the immigration interview.

Once approved, a foreign national will get a conditional permanent resident card, which will be good for two years. 90 days prior to two year’s expiration, the foreign national shall file Form I-751, Petition to remove the conditions on residence. The conditional green card will be automatically terminated if the request to remove condition is not timely filed. Once the condition is removed, the foreign spouse will get a permanent residency and 10 year green card.

Petitioner is a Permanent Resident:

  • Step One – Permanent resident spouse must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for his spouse and for its approval.
  • Step Two – Wait for your priority date in immigrant visa category F2A to become current.  The priority date is the date when the Form I-130 was properly filed.
  • Step Three – Once the priority date is current, the non-U.S. spouse may file for adjustment of status with Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status as well as other Applications discussed above.

Alien Spouse is outside of the U.S.:

Some couples prefer to simply get married in another country, after which the U.S. citizen is allowed to file a petition for alien relative (Form I-130), since spouses are considered relatives. Once this petition is approved by the USCIS, it will be sent to the National Visa Center. Then, the consulate that is located closest to the foreign spouse’s house will ask him or her to apply to get an immigrant visa. Again, spouses of Permanent Residents have to wait for the priority date to become current.  In order to expedite the process, the foreign national shall e-mail the closest American embassy for instructions of consular processing.  All of the interviews are scheduled on-line.

The foreign spouse will need to show up for an interview at the consulate, after which he or she will get an immigrant visa in order to come to the U.S. The immigration process will be completed upon the entry to the United States in the first port of entry.

Is my fiance a US Citizen?

U.S. citizenship is conferred through the location of person’s birth, or through their parents citizenship status. If a person was born in the United States, its territorial seas or Puerto Rico, Guam or the U.S. Virgin Islands, he or she is a U.S. citizen and his or her birth certificate is the proof of citizenship.

For persons born outside of those areas, the citizenship is conveyed at birth through your parents. Generally, although born abroad, one will be an U.S. citizen if:

  • Both parents are U.S. citizens at the time of a person’s birth; and at least one of baby’s parents lived in the United States at some point in their life.
  • One of person’s parents was a U.S. citizen at the time of baby’s birth; that parent lived at least five (5) years in the United States before a child was born; and at least two (2) of those years were after a citizen parent’s 14th birthday.

Battered Spouses

If the U.S. citizen batters a foreign spouse, he or she can file for an immigrant visa without the citizen spouse knowing. This allows battered spouses to get out of the marriage, obtain a green card, get some independence, and live on their own without being trapped by an abusive spouse who takes advantage of the immigration laws.

Death of a spouse

In order to continue with the immigration process after a USC spouse’s death under the widow(er) provisions, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Have been legally married to a USC at the time the USC passed away (i.e., no legal separation or divorce at time of death);
  • Have a pending or approved I-130 or file an I-360 within 2 years of the USC spouse’s passing;
  • Have not remarried;
  • Establish the marriage was bona fide; and
  • Be admissible (or eligible for and granted a waiver).

Depending on where they were in the immigration process when the USC spouse passed away, the noncitizen widow(er) may submit an I-360 self-petition or, if the deceased spouse had already submitted an I-130 petition on their behalf, then the widow(er) may proceed with their permanent resident application notwithstanding the spouse’s death.

In this situation the I-130 is converted automatically into an I-360 widow(er) self-petition, upon notification to USCIS of the USC petitioner’s death and request for conversion to an I-360. See 8 CFR § 205.1(a)(3)(i)(C)(2)


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I really have to file an affidavit Form I-864 for my husband ?
A:   A U.S. citizen petitioning for a foreign national spouse is required by law to file an affidavit of support to guarantee to the U.S. government that his or her spouse, if allowed to immigrate will not become a “public charge”, and if, until the foreign national becomes a citizen he or she collects any “means tested” welfare benefits that the US citizen petitioner reimburses the government, even if the petitioner has no income.

Q: Can I still get my green card application approved if my wife (US Citizen) gets convicted of a DUI and a Hit and Run?

A: Yes, she is the U.S. Citizen.  Any conviction a U.S. citizen has does not affect his/or her ability to sponsor and file on behalf of a foreign national spouse or relative, UNLESS it is of sexual crimes (especially with a minor) that the petitioner has been convicted.

Q: My husband (US citizen) filed the petition on my behalf, does it affect my B-1/B-2 Visa application? positively or negatively?

A: If your husband files for permanent resident status for you, you may be considered an intending immigrant and refused visitor status because of your immigrant intent.
Q: Is that true that unlawful presence in the U.S. less than 180 days can be forgiven if he/she is about to get married to a US citizen?

A:  Yes. As long as you don’t leave the U.S., even an overstay of many years will not count against you if you are adjusting status through marriage to a U.S. citizen.

Q: I met a guy who was born in Puerto Rico. Can he petition for my green card?
A: Yes. A person who was born in Puerto Rico is US Citizen.

Q: Do I have to use my wife’s maiden name or my last name on all of the immigration forms ( I-485 and I-130)?
A: Please complete the forms with her name as she would like it to appear on her Green Card.

Q: Is there any way to expedite the process of advance parole in emergency situation?
A: Yes, go to your local field office to file.

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