When people fall in love, possibilities arise. It may lead to marriage, children, and there may be the need for relocation for one or both of the partners. However, when an immigrant falls in love with a U.S. citizen or U.S. legal permanent resident, there is a big outcome—a chance to also become a green card holder or citizen. This does not always happen though. There are requirements that an immigrant has to satisfy before he or she can be granted U.S. legal permanent residency- and ultimately U.S. citizenship- through marriage.
Eligibility to Obtain a Green Card Through Marriage
The major requirement to be eligible for a green card is a genuine and legal marriage with a U.S. citizen or U.S legal permanent resident. This means that the U.S. partner is already a green card holder or U.S. citizen. For a marriage to be genuine, it means both of you have decided to create a life together, not to get married in order to obtain a green card. A marriage is legal in the U.S. if it is recognized by the laws of the state or country in which you live. It does not matter where the marriage ceremony took place—home or abroad—but it is important that you obtain a document, such as marriage certificate, that shows that you are legally married to your partner.
What are the steps to obtain a green card through marriage?
The steps to obtaining a green card through marriage depend on several factors, including whether your spouse is a U.S. citizen, a U.S. legal permanent resident (green card holder), and whether you currently live in the United States or outside of the United States.
If you legally marry a U.S. citizen, you are “an immediate relative” and eligible for a green card. You simply need to complete the application process detailed below.
However, marriage to a U.S. legal permanent resident may take longer for you to obtain a green card. This is because the spouse (i.e. the U.S. legal permanent resident partner) has to file a visa petition for the immigrant partner, and the non-U.S. partner will be placed in category 2A of the family visa preferences for about two to three years before a green card can become available. When this waiting period is over, and a formal application has been made for a green card, will the non-U.S. partner be allowed to legally live in the United States.
To complete the process, petitioners generally must submit the following:
- Form I-130 (signed with proper fee), with all required documentation, including:
- A copy of your civil marriage certificate, death certificates, divorcee decrees, or annulment decrees that demonstrate that all previous marriages entered into by you and/or your spouse were terminated
- Passport style photos of you and your spouse
- Evidence of all legal name changes.
- As a U.S. citizen, you will be required to demonstrate your status with:
- A copy of your valid U.S. passport or U.S. birth certificate or Consular Report of Birth Abroad or naturalization certificate or certificate of citizenship
- A green card holder (U.S. legal permanent resident) will be required to demonstrate residency status by providing:
- A copy (front and back) of Form I-551 (your green card) OR
- A copy of your foreign passport bearing a stamp showing temporary evidence of permanent residence
If you are an immigrant living in the United States and married to a U.S. citizen:
Then, you may be able to file an I-485 application to adjust your status to lawful permanent resident. This should be done at the same time the I-130 relative petition is filed. Afterwards, you and your spouse will attend an interview with USCIS at your local USCIS office, where USCIS will hopefully approve you as a U.S. legal permanent resident. For those spouses that have been married for less than two years, then USCIS will approve you for conditional residence.
When using the adjustment of status procedure, it is critical that you were met and inspected by an immigration officer (“EWI”) when you entered the United States. If you weren’t-and you entered the United States unlawfully- it is unlikely that you will be able to use the adjustment of status procedure.
If you are an immigrant living in the United States and married to a U.S. legal permanent resident:
If you are an immigrant living in the United States and married to a U.S. legal permanent resident, your U.S. legal permanent resident spouse will file Form I-130 with USCIS. After a visa number becomes available, apply to adjust status to permanent residency using Form I-485. NOTE: Unless the beneficiary (your spouse) had an immigrant visa petition or labor certification pending prior to April 30, 2001, the beneficiary must have continuously maintained lawful status in the United States in order to adjust status.
If you are an immigrant living overseas and married to a U.S. citizen:
For immigrants living overseas and married to a U.S. citizen, your U.S. citizens spouse should file Form I-130 with USCIS. Once the Form I-130 is approved, it will be sent for consular processing and the consulate or embassy will provide notification and processing information for you as the immigrant spouse. After an interview at the consulate, you will receive a visa that you can use to enter the United States within six months.
If you are an immigrant living overseas and married to a U.S. legal permanent resident:
To start the process, your U.S. permanent resident spouse will have to file Form I-130 with USCIS. When it is approved and a visa is available, it will be sent for consular processing and the consulate or embassy will provide notification and processing information. After you interview at the U.S. consulate and are approved, you will receive a visa that you can use to enter the United States within six months.
How long does the process take to get a green card through marriage?
Green card through marriage has a processing time that depends on a number of factors. As a result, it may be difficult to provide an accurate estimate of the timeframe. However, you can check current processing times on the USCIS website where you will be notified of the estimated processing time once you file for a petition.
Why Use Aliro Immigration
The process of obtaining a green card can be frustrating and sometimes cost time and financial toll on partners involved in filing these petitions. With Aliro Immigration, you can quickly and accurately prepare and file your application to become a U.S. legal permanent resident through marriage. We have a 3-step process that uses integrated form-field technology that allows us to cut out the middlemen, saving you time and money.
Our process checks for the most common mistakes when preparing your application, ensuring that your application will be accurate and accepted. We have helped many people seeking to become green card holders in the United States, and make their journey easier by providing 24/7 support and regular updates on their application status. Using Aliro Immigration is like automating your application to become a U.S. legal permanent resident.