Marrying US Permanent Resident
The spouse of a permanent resident may apply for a marriage-based Green Card through the family preference system. There are a limited number of visas available each year for such applicants. Applicants who plan to apply for a Green Card based on marriage to a permanent resident should familiarize themselves with the Visa Bulletin.
How to Read Visa Bulletin
First, applicants need to understand what a “priority date” is. A priority date can be thought of as an applicant’s place in line and the Green Card process is a first-come first-serve system. The priority date is the filing receipt date of the immigrant visa petition. The priority date will be listed under the receipt number on an applicant’s I-797 Notice of Action. Once the applicant has a priority date, to determine if the priority date is current (a green card is available) the applicant can view the most recent monthly Visa Bulletin, found here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin.html
To be current, the priority date must be before the date listed under the FINAL ACTION DATES FOR FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCE CASES chart. Spouses of permanent residents are in the F2A category. (Spouses of U.S. citizens do not need to use this chart). On the chart, there are four columns: China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines. If the applicant’s nationality is not one of the four, then refer to the “All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed” column. When a priority date is current it means a visa is available and ready to be approved.
Generally, the first step in the process is to file form I-130 Petition for Alien Relation, and the supporting documentation. Form I-130A, Supplemental Information for Spouse and Beneficiary must also be completed for a petition based on spousal relationships.
The next step is to either adjust status or 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., he or she can file form I-485 and is not required to leave the U.S. to process the application. The form cannot be submitted until a Green Card is available. 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.