One of the most prevalent ways to obtain a green card is through marriage. The immigration benefit is normally available to the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder). This is a new and unfamiliar process for the vast majority of people. As a result, we’ve answered some of the most often asked questions on how to receive a green card through marriage.
Permanent residents have the privilege of living and working in the United States for the rest of their lives. They can also become citizens of the United States if they meet certain qualifications. The tangible identification that shows status as a lawful permanent resident is known as a green card.
Here are seven of the most often asked questions about how to obtain a green card through marriage:
1. When will I be able to apply for a green card?
You can begin the process of obtaining a green card as soon as you have proof of a valid marriage. Yes, a photocopy of your marriage certificate would be required. You must, however, demonstrate that your marriage is genuine.
USCIS scrutinizes marriage-based green card applications more closely than other green card applications. They must ensure that neither side intends to use the marriage to avoid immigration regulations. It is fraud to stage a false marriage in order to obtain a green card certificate. As a result, USCIS requires you to demonstrate the validity of your marriage. It entails producing additional supporting documentation to demonstrate that your marriage is genuine.
Most couples are eligible to apply as soon as they receive their marriage certificate.
2. Which forms do I need to apply for a green card based on marriage?
First and foremost, it’s critical to recognize that there are two basic ways to immigrate: consular processing and adjustment of status. The majority of people do not have a choice. The forms you’ll need to fill out are determined by the path you take to immigrate.
A. Processing at the Consulate
The majority of immigrants go through consular screening. Essentially, this means that the application is processed in a U.S. embassy or consulate located outside of the U.S. The process begins with filing Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) and Form I-130A (Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary) with USCIS by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. Through marriage, the petition establishes a qualifying relationship. The petitioner has the option of filing the paperwork from within or outside the U.S. Once you’ve been authorized and have a visa, you’ll need to fill out a few more paperwork with the National Visa Center:
I-864, Affidavit of Support DS-260, Immigrant Visa Application Form
The entire process is oversimplified in this way. See our section on consular processes for more details.
There are, of course, additional supporting documents that must be submitted with the petition. If you need assistance completing Form I-130, CitizenPath’s online immigration services can assist you. You’ll also receive a set of filing instructions that detail the supporting papers you should provide based on your circumstances.
B. Adjustment of Status
When the foreign spouse is physically present in the United States, they may be able to alter status to that of a green cardholder. The process of applying while in the United States is known as adjustment of status. Spouses of U.S. citizens are usually eligible. If the visa bulletin is current, spouses of permanent residents may be eligible. (A visa must be available right away.)
I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
I-130A, Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary
I-864, Affidavit of Support
I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record
I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (optional)
I-131, Application for Travel Document (optional)
3. Are there options for engaged couples (fiancés)?
There is also a method for fiancés to come to the United States, but it is only available to fiancées of American citizens. A K-1 visa allows a U.S. citizen’s fiancée to enter the country for the purpose of marriage. The spouse may then be eligible for a green card through marriage. The fiancé of a permanent resident is not eligible for this procedure.
To begin the application process for a K-1 visa, U.S. citizens must complete Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancée. A qualified relationship is established through the visa petition.
The processing time for a K-1 visa could take anything from 6 to 9 months. The foreign fiancé has 90 days to marry after arriving in the United States on a K-1 visa. After marriage, the spouse can change their status to that of a U.S. citizen’s direct relative.
4. Is it possible to receive a green card if I’m married to someone of the same gender?
LGBTQ+ couples who are already married can apply for asylum in the United States in the same way that any other opposite-sex married couple can. A U.S. citizen or permanent resident can apply for a green card for their spouse. A U.S. citizen or permanent resident’s LGBTQ spouse is eligible for a green card in the same manner as opposite-sex couples are.
The marriage, like opposite-sex marriages, must be lawful. To put it another way, marriage had to take place in a country where same-sex marriage is permitted. As a result, many same-sex couples use the K-1 visa (explained in the previous question) to come to the United States with the intention of getting married.
5. When I live apart from my spouse, may I receive a green card through marriage?
The reason you live apart from your spouse may affect your eligibility for a green card.
A. Problems in Marriage
Not all marriages work out, but that doesn’t mean your time in the United States has come to an end. It is possible to receive a green card if you are not divorced or formally separated. You must have a genuine marriage to be eligible for a green card through marriage. This suggests you are married because you truly love one other and want to spend the rest of your lives together. Of all, we all know that many marriages start off well but end up in divorce.
In circumstances involving marital issues, it is always recommended that you seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney. Officers from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are aware of these difficulties. The officer will most likely examine your relationship and intentions at the start of the marriage. As a result, if you are living apart at different addresses at any point throughout your marriage, call Gehi & Associates.
B. Relocation on a temporary basis
At times, a married couple may be obliged to live apart, even in different countries. This is frequently the result of a temporary job assignment or other situation. A spouse serving in the United States armed forces or another temporary assignment working overseas are some examples. These scenarios are rarely problematic, but they do add to the complexity of your position. In these situations, it’s always a good idea to speak with an immigration lawyer to make sure you don’t have any issues.
6. What is the time frame for getting a green card through marriage?
The time it takes to receive a green card through marriage depends on the immigration method you choose (consular or adjustment), visa availability, caseload, and your ability to submit a well-organized application package.
The visa bulletin for spouses of permanent residents is now valid (F2A category). This means that an immigrant visa is accessible right now. Visas for spouses of U.S. residents are always available (IR1 or CR1 category). The F2A visa wait time may increase in the future.
Because of COVID-19 limits and rules, the backlog for many petitions and applications is unusually significant at the time of writing this article. Over the following few months, USCIS processing times should decrease.
As a result, the adjustment of status time frame for applicants seeking a green card through marriage is generally 8 to 14 months. The processing time for consular applications ranges from 7 to 12 months.
7. When may I apply for citizenship in the United States?
After five years of continuous residency, a permanent resident can naturalize as a United States citizen. Permanent residents who marry U.S. citizens have a faster path under U.S. immigration law.
A permanent resident spouse of a U.S. citizen can naturalize after just three years if the U.S. citizen has been a citizen for the entire time.
In fact, candidates can submit Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, up to 90 days before the three-year naturalization requirement is met.