How to Get a Green Card Through Marriage: Step-by-Step Guide

A wooden gavel resting on a judges bench with the American flag in the background.
  1. Introduction to Getting a Green Card Through Marriage

If you are married to or planning to marry a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, you are eligible to apply for a green card. This guide provides comprehensive information on the process, requirements, and benefits of obtaining a green card through marriage.

The journey begins with your spouse, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, filing Form I-130 on your behalf. This petition is crucial as it initiates your application process. Once approved, a green card allows you to live, work, travel, and study in the U.S., with the option to eventually apply for citizenship.

Though the process is detailed and must be followed meticulously, understanding each step can help ensure a successful application.

  1. Benefits of Getting a Green Card Through Marriage

Obtaining a green card through marriage offers numerous advantages:

-Residence and Employment: Live and work anywhere in the U.S.
-Status Adjustment: Adjust your status within the U.S. even if you’ve overstayed your visa.
-No Sponsorship Required: No need for a job offer or sponsorship from a U.S. company.
-Travel: Freely travel in and out of the U.S.
Family Benefits: Your unmarried children under 21 can also qualify for green cards.
-Sponsorship: Once you become a permanent resident, you can sponsor relatives.
-Education: Access to U.S. schools and educational opportunities.

  1. Process of Getting a Green Card Through Marriage

The process involves several steps:

A. Marry a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident

Ensure your marriage is legally recognized and valid. It must not be fraudulent and should comply with federal and state laws.

B. File Form I-130

This form, the Petition for Alien Relative, initiates your application process and requires proof of a legitimate marriage, such as a marriage certificate, photos, and other documentation.

C. Marriage Interview

USCIS may require an interview to confirm the legitimacy of your marriage. Be prepared to answer questions about your relationship and provide supporting evidence.

D. File for Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing

Depending on your situation, you will either file for an adjustment of status within the U.S. or apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate abroad. This step involves submitting additional forms and undergoing medical examinations.

E. Conditional Permanent Resident Status

If you obtain your green card within two years of marriage, you initially receive a conditional permanent resident status, which must be upgraded to an unconditional status after two years.

F. Removal of Condition to Become Unconditional Permanent Resident

To remove the conditional status, you must file Form I-751 before the two-year period ends, demonstrating the legitimacy of your marriage.

G. Naturalization (Optional)

After maintaining permanent resident status for three years (if marrying a US citizen) or 5 years (other cases), you may apply for U.S. citizenship, provided you meet certain requirements.

  1. Requirements to Get a Green Card Through Marriage

The requirements vary slightly depending on whether you marry a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident:

-Valid Marriage: The marriage must be legally recognized and genuine.
-Minimum Income: Your spouse must meet minimum income requirements to support you.
-Admissibility: You must not be inadmissible based on health, criminal background, or prior immigration violations.
-Form I-130: Must be filed and approved.
Adjustment of Status/Consular Processing: Complete the appropriate process based on your residence.

  1. Documents Required to Get a Green Card Through Marriage

The documents required include:

From the U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident Spouse:

-Passport copy
-Permanent Resident Card (if applicable)
-Income tax returns
-Proof of terminated prior marriages

From the Foreign National Seeking the Green Card:

-Passport copy
-Birth certificate
-Passport photos
-Proof of terminated prior marriages

Joint Documentation:

-Marriage certificate
-Photos together
-Joint lease or mortgage
-Evidence of joint bank accounts, insurance policies, and credit cards
-Birth certificates of any children
-Letters from friends and family affirming the relationship

  1. What are the Fees to Get a Green Card Through Marriage?

Fees include:

-Immigration Lawyer Fee: Varies by lawyer.
-Form I-130 Fee: $675.
-Adjustment of Status Fee (Form I-485): $1,440.
-Removal of Condition Fee (Form I-751): $750.
-Document Translation Fees: Vary based on service provider.
-Additional fees may apply depending on your specific case.

  1. How Long Does It Take to Get a Green Card Through Marriage?

The timeline involves several steps:

-Filing Form I-130: 6 to 12 months.
-Adjustment of Status/Consular Processing: 6 to 8 months.
-For spouses of U.S. citizens, visa numbers are always available. For spouses of lawful permanent residents, visa availability may affect the timeline.

  1. What Questions will I be Asked During the Marriage Interview?

Questions may cover:

A. Spouse’s Background:
-Birthplace, birthday, family details.

B. Relationship Details:
-How you met, proposal details, wedding and honeymoon information.

C. Household Information:
-Home decor, household items, shared routines.

D. Spouse’s Personal Information:
-Nicknames, distinctive marks, personal preferences.

  1. Conclusion

By now, you should have a solid understanding of how to obtain a green card through marriage, including the process, requirements, and necessary documentation. This guide is intended to inform and assist you, but working with an immigration lawyer can provide personalized support and ensure a smoother process.

If you need further assistance, feel free to reach out to us. It will be a pleasure to assist you!