Who is eligible for a Green Card by Marriage?
An alien can apply for a green card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. While both the spouse of a US citizen and a spouse of a permanent resident can lawfully enter the US by marriage, the process is different for each.
- The Spouse of a US Citizen is deemed by law an “immediate relative”. An immediate relative has special priority and does not have to wait in line for a visa to become available for them to enter the country. There are no annual quota restrictions on the number of green cards available to spouses of U.S. citizens
- The Spouse of a Permanent Resident belongs to the “Second Preference” category of people who are eligible for an immigrant visa. Unlike spouses of U.S. citizens, spouses of permanent residents are subject to the annual per-country limit of immigrant visas.
If the spouse in question was not lawfully admitted into the U.S. (entered the U.S. without inspection), s/he is not eligible to adjust status and may have to apply for a green card at a U.S. consular office in his/her home country. However, since the individual did not enter the U.S. lawfully, s/he is subject to a 3-year or 10-year bar to re-entering the U.S. In those circumstances, the alien spouse may be eligible for a provisional waiver in the U.S.
Due to the amount of marriage fraud committed, the United States has a certain set of qualifications both spouses of US citizens and spouses of permanent residents must meet in order to be eligible for a green card through marriage including:
- You are legally married – You do not need to be married in the US to qualify for legal marriage. The US recognizes a variety of wedding procedures.
- The marriage must be bona fide: This means, your marriage is not just for the green card. These marriages are called sham or fraudulent marriages and the USCIS is extremely motivated to uncover these marriages.
- You can only have one marriage: any other previous marriages must have either ended in death, divorce or annulment. If you have previously been married, you must have documentation proving your previous marriage has ended.
- The couple must attend an interview with the USCIS: If your marriage is legitimate, you shouldn’t stress too much about these interviews. We suggest you and your spouse bring photographs and documents with both your names as evidence your marriage is in good faith. Examples of documentation you could bring include:
- Mortgage or lease agreements
- Medical Insurance
- Life insurance Policies
- Bank accounts / credit card statements
- Travel documents
- Be able to answer biographical/ personal questions about your marriage: While each examiner asks different questions, people have commonly reported the USCIS asking couples questions concerning:
- The development of their relationships
- Details about the wedding
- Regular routines
- Your children
- Information about your house
- Family and family celebrations
- The petition must be approved by the USCIS: In order for the green card to be processed and approved, your spouse has to file an I-130 form with the USCIS.
What if We’ve Only been Married a Short Time?
If your marriage is less than two years old at the time you are approved, you will be given a conditional permanent residence. This means your green card will only be valid for 2 years. About 90 days before the expiration of your green card, you must file a Form I-751 showing your marriage has continued through the 20 years and is still in good faith. Along with the Form I-751, you will need to provide documents showing you continue to live together and share financial assets.
Get the Advice of an Immigration Lawyer
You can count on a San Jose based Immigration Attorney at Verma Law Firm specializing in marriage based Green Cards to provide you with reliable guidance in filing your Green Card application and attending the USCIS interview with you.
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