Marrying US Citizen
To apply for a Green Card based on a marriage to a U.S. citizen, it must first be established that the marriage is not a sham (not entered into for immigration purposes) and that both parties are free to marry. If the marriage is legitimate, generally the first step is to file form I-130 Petition for Alien Relation, along with the supporting documentation. Form I-130A, Supplemental Information for Spouse and Beneficiary must also be filed for petitions based on spousal relationships.
The next step is to either adjust status or to proceed via consular processing.
- Consular Processing: If the applicant is outside the U.S., he or she applies at a U.S. consulate. After the I-130 is approved and the priority date is current, the National Visa Center (“NVC”) will send the applicant instructions, the fees to pay, and the forms to complete.
- Adjustment of Status: If the applicant is in the U.S., form I-485 can be filed with USCIS and the applicant is not required to leave the U.S. to process the application. Generally, form I-485 can be filed at the same time as the I-130. If the applicant wishes to travel while adjustment of status is pending, form I-131 should be included in the Adjustment Application Package.
Whether using consular processing or adjustment of status, the applicant is required to undergo a medical exam. A marriage interview may be required, and the couple should be ready to establish the validity of their marriage through documentary evidence, such as wedding photos, utility bills, leases, joint bank accounts….
- What is the two-year conditional resident status?
The Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986 created a two-year conditional residence status for marriage-based Green Card holders. It applies when a marriage occurred within two years of the applicant entering the U.S. as a permanent resident or adjusting to permanent resident status. After two years, the couple can file a joint petition to have the conditions removed.