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The Essentials of Adjustment of Status Through Marriage to a U.S. Citizen

The process of adjustment of status through marriage to a U.S. citizen is a complex and crucial aspect of immigration law. For foreign nationals who are married to U.S. citizens, this process provides a path to obtain permanent residency in the United States, allowing them to live and work in the country legally. However, navigating the requirements and procedures involved in this process can be challenging and require careful attention to detail. 

Adjustment of Status is the process through which an eligible foreign national who is currently in the United States can apply for permanent residency without having to return to their home country to get a visa through consular processing. It can also be seen as a process of changing a foreign national’s legal status from non-immigrant (temporary) to immigrant (permanent).

It is common for U.S. citizens to fall in love with and marry foreign nationals but we are aware that marriage to a foreign national has certain practical repercussions, such as the need to arrange for visas and permits. The silver lining in all this is that the formalities involved in obtaining and renewing visas and green cards don’t last forever; through citizenship marriage, foreigners who marry U.S. citizens have the opportunity to also become citizens of the United States. Let’s explore the topic of adjustment of status in more detail.  

Who Can Apply For Status Adjustment 

If you are a foreign national married to a U.S. citizen or vice versa and entered the United States through a visa waiver program, you can quickly file for an adjustment of status and obtain a marriage-based green card, granting you the right to live in the country legally. It is one of the easiest and most common ways for a foreign national who is currently in the United States and who entered legally to gain lawful permanent resident status. The law surrounding marriage-based status adjustments can be very complex, as it is with most of immigration laws. It is advisable to see an immigration attorney NYC for legal counsel and advice on how to navigate these laws.

 The I-130 petition for alien relatives, from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration, is the first step in the application process. The same petition may be filed for a parent, child, or sibling; the petition is required to establish the relationship between the U.S. citizen and the relative, in this case, the foreign spouse. The U.S. citizen and foreign spouse must also fill out Form I-130A, which requests general biographical information, in addition to Form I-130. 

According to immigration law, the U.S. citizen-petitioner must provide evidence of the marriage legality at the time it was done, that a genuine marital relationship exists, and the fact that it was not primarily entered into to obtain immigration benefits. Safeguards against marriage fraud have been incorporated into the immigration laws. The mere fact that a marriage certificate exists will not be sufficient to prove a genuine marital relationship; love letters, holiday cards, and pictures, as well as sworn testimonies from friends and family attesting to the authenticity of the relationship, are additional elements of a solid case. An immigration attorney NYC can help you understand the process, evaluate your agreement, and verify that all relevant paperwork is filed appropriately.

When a foreign national is already a resident of the United States, it may be expected that the couple will live together and the United States Citizens  and Immigration Service (USCIS) expects to find money mixed together through joint bank accounts, joint tax returns, joint utility bills, and joint leases or mortgages. Additionally, strong evidence of a genuine relationship will be found on the birth certificates of any children born from the marriage. Applying for an adjustment of status and filing for a marriage-based green card to become a legal resident of the United States can be a challenging job regardless of your circumstances. However, an immigration attorney NYC will walk you through the processes to follow and what to expect when applying for a green card through marriage.

Marriage-Based Status Adjustment-Spouse Eligibility Requirements

A foreign national who marries a United States citizen is automatically considered their spouse’s “immediate relative” under U.S. family immigration regulations. This typically signifies that they are qualified for a green card as soon as they are able to complete the adjustment of status process. To be eligible for status adjustment, you and your spouse must both meet a number of requirements, but there are a few exceptions that you should be aware of.

The following are the major requirements that a foreign spouse must fulfill:

  • Be physically present in the United States, regardless of whether one has a valid or expired non-immigrant visa.
  • You must have entered the United States lawfully and been in possession of a valid visa when you arrived for the first time.
  • A criminal record could be a potentially disqualifying factor for admission to the United States.

In accordance with the above requirements, if you or your spouse are not qualified to gain permanent residence through marriage, you could have alternative options. The foreign spouse may be eligible for residence in the United States through immigrant visa processing even if they are not physically present in the country or entered illegally. Furthermore, the foreign spouse may be able to ask for a waiver if they are barred from entering the United States due to prior criminal offenses. The most effective way to find out if you qualify for these options and if they’re the best option for you is to speak with an experienced immigration attorney NYC. With as little as booking a free consultation, you can start getting the right help you need for your immigration journey.

List Of Forms Required To Adjust Marriage-Based Green Card Status:

Generally, the U.S. citizen and his spouse must submit the following forms with supporting documents:

  • Form I-130
  • Form I-130A
  • Form I-485
  • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support
  • Form I-131 Application for Travel Document
  • Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization and
  • I-693 Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record which can be obtained from a USCIS approved Civil Surgeon.

 After receiving these documents, USCIS will send out a receipt notice and an appointment notice for the ACS to gather the foreign national’s biometrics and before any work authorization or adjustment of status can be given, the biometrics will be used to carry out a background check on the foreign national. Contact an immigration attorney NYC right away if you’re a foreign national in the United States and want to change your status.

Change of Status using the Marriage Checklist

To support the information provided in your application to adjust your status to permanent resident, you will also need to provide a number of records in addition to the ones mentioned above. These are provided to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer, who will assess your application mainly to show the validity of the marriage, along with establishing the identity and admissibility of the foreign national applicant. When submitting the USCIS Form I-130 petition, the majority of the supporting evidence should be provided. They include:

  • Photos of the couple taken at different occasions, both together and with friends and relatives
  • Evidence of the couple’s combined assets, such as joint bank statements
  • Copies of the mail that was delivered to the couple at their shared home
  • Evidence that in any life insurance policies, both spouses have named the other as a beneficiary
  • Proof of shared auto or health insurance

To Prove the foreign national applicant’s admissibility, additional documentation may be required when submitting Form I-485. They are:

  • Two recent photos in passport format of the applicant
  • A copy of the applicant’s passport or other official photo ID
  • A copy of the applicant’s long-form birth certificate
  • Evidence that the applicant was checked by an immigration official when they entered the U.S.
  • The applicant must provide their immigration status in writing
  • A certified copy of the marriage certificate and evidence of the dissolution of previous marriages must be provided
  • The applicant must provide certified records of any criminal charges or convictions

Get Legal Help Today; Free Consultation Guaranteed

Making the decision to get married is a major step for anyone, but if you desire a marriage with a foreign national, there are certain additional legal requirements you may not have been aware of. Your mind will be at peace, and the entire process will be positive if you consult with an experienced immigration attorney NYC about your alternatives. The law office of Gehi & Associates is well-versed in a wide range of immigration issues and can provide you with a clear understanding of your rights and options. So don’t hesitate – take advantage of our free consultation and get the legal advice and support you need today.

You can have the peace of mind that comes with having an independent immigration attorney who responds to your private inquiries and examines your whole green card application when you work with Gehi & Associates.