Green Card Through Marriage
Marrying a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States is one of the most straightforward ways to earning permanent residency. With a bona fide marriage, foreign spouses can obtain a green card through a few different options.
For spouses already present in the United States, they may undergo an adjustment of status to obtain a green card, and to be able to call the U.S. their new home.
Adjusting status means that you and your spouse complete the entire immigration process inside the U.S. However, having this option depends on many factors including the immigrant spouse’s lawful status at the time, how they entered the U.S., and more. For example, if your spouse entered with a B-2 visitor’s visa, they may qualify for adjustment of status. However, a B-2 visitor’s visa has a non-immigrant intent, meaning your spouse did not have the intent to remain in the U.S. permanently at time of entry. Dual intent may be a concern to the immigration officer when reviewing an adjustment of status application.
An entry with inspection is one of the most important factors to be able to apply for a green card inside the U.S. However, there are some exceptions. A spouse with an approved family petition (I-130) prior to April 30, 2001 may be able to complete their green card process inside the U.S., even if they didn’t have an inspected entry (INA §245(i)).
The most important requirement for a successful green card process via a U.S. spouse is a bona fide marriage that exists at the time of filing, and can be proven through credible documentation. Processing times for a green card may vary from 9 to 18 months. By undergoing the adjusting of status process inside the U.S., the applicant spouse can obtain a work permit, or travel outside of the country with an approved travel document, all while waiting for your interview to be scheduled.
Once your interview is scheduled, you and your spouse will present yourselves at a USCIS office in your home state. After your interview and upon approval, congratulations on permanent residency!
If the parties are married less than 2 years when the applicant spouse receives their green card, a 2-year conditional green card is issued. Upon 90 days prior to its expiration, an application to remove the conditional status must be filed along with qualifying documents showing a continued bona fide marriage. After removal of the conditional status, a 10-year green card is granted.
Consular Processing refers to the green card process a spouse will undergo in their foreign country.
Consular Processing occurs in various situations. If your foreign spouse lives permanently outside of the U.S. they will have to complete the green card process in their home country (or another country under certain circumstances) at a U.S. consulate or embassy. There are circumstances where the immigrant spouse is already in the U.S. but is not eligible for adjustment of status due to inadmissibility issues. The immigrant spouse may be able to overcome their inadmissibility by filing a 601-A waiver prior to departing the U.S. If successful, the waiver will forgive unlawful entry or other inadmissibility issues, but the applicant spouse will need to return to their home country for consular processing.
Consular processing means the immigration petition is transferred to the National Visa Center (an extension of the U.S. Department of State) after approval by USCIS. The NVC is tasked with holding petitions until a visa becomes available and progressing the case to the interview stage at the appropriate U.S. embassy or consulate. Once the green card application is approved, the applicant spouse will receive an immigrant visa to finally enter the country. The official green card will arrive in the mail at their U.S. address.
Because of the complexities of immigration law and unique circumstances of your case, a free immigration consultation with the Milovic Law Firm will start you on the right path. Whether you are in Phoenix Arizona, across the U.S. or outside of the country, we can help make your green card dreams a reality.