Can I Get a Green Card Through Marriage?

Getting a green card through marriage is considered the fastest way to get a green card. US citizens marry foreign-born persons and petition them to obtain permanent residence (green card) in the US. Per US immigration laws, spouses of US citizens are considered “immediate relatives” and therefore are exempt from all numerical quota limitations.

Battered spouses and children of US citizens or lawful permanent residents are entitled to special benefits per US immigration laws. A US citizen can also get a temporary visa for a fiancee and get married once he/she arrives in the US.

Marriage in the US :

To get a green card under this classification, the US citizen has to submit a visa petition (Form I-130). The following have to be included to the visa petition :

  • Forms G-325 (Biographical forms) for both the husband and wife.
  • Proof that the petitioner is a citizen (US Passport, a Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship or a certified copy of the citizen’s birth certificate)
  • Certified copy of the marriage certificate
  • Certified copies of the documents if previous marriages were terminated including final divorce decrees, and certificates of annulment or death.

The foreign-born spouse has to submit an application for adjustment of status (Form I-485). After receiving and reviewing your application, the USCIS will schedule an interview within a few months.

If you are a US citizen and your spouse is currently in the US, your spouse may be eligible to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status, at the same time as you file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

Marriage outside the US:

Per earlier laws, the foreign-born spouse had to remain in his/her country until he/she got a green card. However things changed after August 14, 2001 when temporary K-3 and K-4 visas became available and through this, spouse and children of US citizens were permitted the to get temporary visas to come to the US and get the paperwork processed in the US.

The US citizen spouse has to submit a visa petition to either the USCIS office which has jurisdiction over his residence or directly to the US Embassy or Consulate in the country where the foreign-born spouse is currently residing. Once this petition is approved, the foreign-born spouse will receive a package from the National Visa Center (NVC). The package will spell out details to the foreign-born spouse of the documents that has to be presented at the immigrant visa interview abroad (passport, police clearances, medical examination results, etc.). Normally, the foreign-born spouse will be interviewed and issued an immigrant visa within three to six months. The State Department charges a fee to issue an immigrant visa.

Conditional Residence :

A conditional resident card is valid for two years. You and your spouse have to submit a joint petition (Form I-751) to remove the two-year condition within the 90-day period before the end of the two year period.

If the marriage was terminated due to divorce, death of the citizen spouse or spousal abuse, the foreign-born spouse may apply for a waiver of the joint petition requirement at any time before the end of the two-year period. Once approved, a permanent resident card with a ten year validity will be issued.

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