Marriage-based green cards, or permanent resident status based on a marriage to a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, are often straight forward and relatively quick to obtain. However, these green cards are not guaranteed. You and your sponsoring spouse must prove that your relationship is legitimate or bona fide. An immigration attorney can help you ensure that you have the proof you need and guide you through the whole process. Here are the answers to the most common questions about marriage-based green cards.
When seeking a green card through your marriage, you’ll need to follow these steps:
Your sponsoring spouse submits form I-130 to start the process and establish your relationship.
Based on the I-130 form, the government will seek to determine if the alien is eligible to receive sponsorship from the U.S. citizen. If the alien spouse is living in the United States, the sponsoring spouse files form I-485 when they submit the I-130 form in the first step. This concurrent filing usually shortens the process to six to twelve months.
If the alien spouse is living in their home country, the sponsoring spouse files an application package with the National Visa Center. The NVC will schedule an interview
Whether in the U.S. or in the home country, the alien spouse will need to attend an interview. The sponsoring spouse is sometimes also asked to attend the interview if it is being held in the United States. Bring all of your proof to the interview and expect to be asked personal questions about your relationship.
If granted a conditional status card based on the length of your marriage, you can remove the conditions in two years by filing form I-175. You have a 90-day window before the two-year anniversary of the green card to file for the removal of conditions, so don’t forget.
If you and your sponsoring spouse divorce before you are granted conditional permanent residency, then you may no longer immigrate. There are exceptions and help for abused spouses and those in forced marriages. If you divorce while under conditional permanent residency, you can file to get a “good faith marriage waiver” and remain in the United States. If you are divorced after gaining permanent residency without conditions, you may remain in the United States.
If you are in the United States legally on a non-immigrant visa, you can file to adjust your status to K-3 visa or marriage visa.
No, not unless the illegal immigrant is willing to leave the United States. You cannot apply while illegally in the United States. However, leaving may also void your eligibility for future visas depending on your circumstances. This is a complex situation, and you need the guidance of an immigration attorney.
If you enter the US as a tourist, then apply for a marriage-based green card, you must be very careful regarding the time of your entry the timing of your marriage.
A general guideline is that USCIS is less suspicious of your decision if you were married and applied to change your status 90 days after your initial arrival. You will need an immigration attorney’s guidance to make the best argument in your favor regardless of your timeline.
There is another option. Before you are married, your loved one can get a fiancé(e) visa in order to come to the United States, at which point you have 90 days to marry. They can then apply for a green card.
This is a complicated choice. It’s best to refer to an immigration attorney to discuss your options.
No, a green card is not guaranteed. A marriage-based green card may be denied if the immigration authorities do not believe your marriage is bona fide.
For immigration purposes, your marriage is bona fide if you intend to spend your lives together. If you are only getting married for a green card, your marriage is not legitimate, and you may face consequences.
There are several kinds of proof you will need, or that will benefit you as you attempt to prove your marriage is bona fide, including:
There are many forms of proof, speak to your immigration lawyer for more advice.
When seeking a green card through marriage, it is best to reach out to an immigration lawyer. At Poarch Thompson Law, we’re experienced in all green card matters and love to help families reunite in the United States. We can guide you through the whole process, to give your alien spouse the best chance of obtaining a marriage-based green card.