Green Card Through Marriage
Foreign nationals can acquire a US Green Card through marriage if they are married to a US citizen or US permanent resident and their marriage is genuine and not orchestrated for immigration purposes. Additionally, compliance with all applicable immigration laws and regulations is essential.
What documents do I need for a Green Card through marriage?
Gathering the requisite documents is a pivotal phase in the Green Card application process. These documents include:
- Marriage Certificate: A formal and legally recognized proof of the marriage's validity along with divorce decrees of any prior marriage/s.
- Proof of U.S. Citizenship of the Spouse: This encompasses a U.S. birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or valid U.S. passport.
- Proof of Identity for Non-U.S. Citizen Spouse: This comprises a valid birth certificate and passport.
- Substantiation of Bona Fide Marriage: This includes joint financial records, shared leases or mortgages, photographs documenting the relationship, and testimonies from close acquaintances affirming the authenticity of the union.
- The Affidavit of Support along with supporting documents: This ensures the immigrant spouse will have sufficient financial support in the U.S from the petitioner or a joint sponsor.
How do I file an Immigration Application if my spouse is living abroad?
If the foreign spouse is living abroad, the US Citizen or US Permanent Resident will need to file an immigration petition with USCIS. USCIS generally adjudicates the immigration petition in about 6 months, but this timeline is subject to change.
Subsequently, USCIS will send the approval notice for the immigration petition to the National Visa Center (NVC). Additional filing of forms, Affidavit of Support, etc. must be done at the NVC. The average time for adjudication by the NVC is about 3 months, but this timeline is subject to change.
Thereafter, the NVC will forward the file to the US Consulate in the country where the foreign spouse lives.
The US Consulate abroad will continue to process the application and schedule an interview with the foreign spouse for final approval of the immigrant visa. The processing time at the US Consulate and the scheduling of the interview depends upon the volume of work at the particular US Consulate and can take up to 6 months to a year or more.
Once the immigrant visa is approved, the foreign spouse can enter the US within 6 months of issuance of the visa. The actual Green Card will be mailed after the foreign spouse has entered the US.
What is the process for Adjustment of Status if the foreign spouse is already in the US?
If the foreign spouse is in the United States on a F-1 student or other valid visa, they can begin the Adjustment of Status (AOS) process for a Green Card while residing in the U.S by following these steps:
The US citizen can file an immigrant petition in conjunction with the AOS Application; along with Affidavit of Support; Application for Employment Authorization; and, Application for Travel Document (hereinafter collectively called as “AOS application”).
After the AOS application is filed, USCIS will send a biometrics appointment notice within a few weeks for fingerprinting.
USCIS will issue an Advance Parole (travel permit) and Employment Authorization Document (work authorization) after the Green Card is filed. Please note that the processing time for approval of Advance Parole and Employment Authorization varies and can range from few months to more than 6 months.
USCIS may schedule an interview with both spouses or issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) to further determine the validity of the marriage if needed.
Once the AOS application is approved, USCIS will send the Green Card in the mail. Please note that current overall processing time for approval of marriage Green Card filed through AOS is approximately one year, but this timeline is subject to change.
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