Green Card through marriage

Obtaining a Green Card through marriage to a U.S. citizen is one of the least complicated ways to immigrate to the United States.  Obtaining a Green Card through marriage is relatively simple compared to other types of petitions, but that does not mean the applicant should file the application without an immigration attorney’s assistance. Each type of immigration petition is accompanied by its own set of features and difficulties. 

Before applying for a Green Card through marriage, an applicant should gather all of the necessary documents to demonstrate that the marriage is bona fide. After submitting the application for the Green Card, the applicant and his or her spouse will have to go through an interview with a USCIS officer, where they will both be asked questions regarding their relationship, such as where they met, where the wedding took place, and so forth. The main purpose of the interview is to allow an applicant to show that the marriage is honest and is not done for the purpose of receiving immigration benefits.

If the application process is successful, the applicant is granted a conditional Green Card. This Permanent Resident Card is valid for 2 years. Shortly before the conditional Green Card expires, the Green Card holder should file an application for its renewal, which should be supported with documents showing that he or she is still married to the same person. If the application is successful, the condition on the Green Card will be lifted and the applicant will be issued a new Permanent Resident Card, which will expire in 10 years.

Usually a person can apply for U.S. citizenship after 5 years of obtaining a Green Card, but if a Green Card was obtained through marriage, an application for citizenship can be submitted after only 3 years from the time the conditional Green Card was obtained.

The petition for a Green Card through marriage can be submitted regardless of whether an applicant is in the United States or still in his or her home country. However, the processing time is shorter and the whole process is cheaper and easier if the applicant is in the U.S.

If a foreign-born individual resides in the U.S. legally, he or she can apply for adjustment of status without leaving the country. While the application for the Green Card is still pending, the applicant can receive an employment authorization and a travel permit.

A petition for a Permanent Resident Card through marriage can be also submitted even if the applicant is illegally present in the U.S. However, if an applicant is an illegal alien, the standard of proof that the marriage is bona fide is higher then it would be otherwise and the difficulty of the application process depends on the specific circumstances of the applicant.

I guide and assist my clients at each step of the Green Card application process, regardless of whether they are in the U.S. or abroad.

Application Process in the United States

A spouse of a U.S. citizen can apply for a Green Card without leaving the country through the process, which is called Adjustment of Status.  The petitioner, which is a U.S. citizen spouse has to submit a petition by filing Form I-130.  After the form is approved, the applicant for Green Card can submit an application for Adjustment of Status by filling Form I-485.  Another way to start the process is Concurrent Filing, which allows submission of forms I-130 and I-485 at the same time to the same filing location of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  During concurrent filing the applicant can also apply for employment authorization as well as for Advance Parole, which is permission to leave the country and come back.

Applying for a Green Card from Abroad

In order to apply for a Green Card for a spouse from abroad, a U.S. citizen petitioner first files Form I-130.  Main difference between applying from abroad and while in the U.S. is that in the first instance the spouse of a U.S. citizen files an application for an immigrant visa abroad through a consular service after the Form I-130 is first approved and after he arrives in the U.S. he is granted a Green Card.  Because there is no adjustment of status through consular service, concurrent filing is not available for those who are applying aboard.

If the marriage took place within less than past 2 years, the applicant will be granted a temporary Green Card, which is valid for only 2 years.  If the applicant has unmarried children under 21, they are also eligible to apply for a Green Card as derivative applicants.

Usually Green Card application process through consular service takes more time than through adjustment of status, but having a qualified immigration attorney is one of the most important factors in order to successfully finalize the whole process whether it is at a consulate aboard or at USCIS in the United States.

The process discussed above similarly applies to other immediate relatives of U.S. citizen as well.  The immediate relatives under immigration law are a spouse, unmarried child under age of 21and parent.  If a parent of a U.S. citizen is applying for a Green Card, the petitioner, that is the U.S. citizen son or daughter has to be at least 21 years old.

Should you have any questions or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact me by submitting the form or by calling me at (248) 900-3399.  I accept clients from across the U.S. and around the world.  My law office is conveniently located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan for in-person meetings.  For phone consultation, you can reach me from any part of the United States or abroad.