If you’re a green card holder or married to a US citizen, you can start a new life together. But before you make the United States your permanent residence, you need a marriage green card. In this guide, we’ll cover the requirements and steps to follow for a successful process. Read on to learn more.
What Is A Marriage Green Card?
A marriage green card is a type of immigrant visa that allows a green card holder or US citizen to live and work in the US. The holder of the card gets the status of a `permanent resident’.
The process for obtaining a marriage green card is straightforward. It involves completing a marriage relationship form, applying for a green card, attending an interview, and waiting for approval.
Proof Of Marriage
If you are already married, you can complete a marriage green card application by providing all supporting documents, attorney review, and support. You can check your eligibility without providing any financial information.
To qualify for a marriage green card, your marriage must be officially recognized by the country where it took place. One way of proving that your marriage is legal is by providing a marriage certificate. If you’ve had other prior marriages, you should prove they were legally terminated through divorce, death, or annulment.
In addition to that, you must prove that your marriage is not entered to gain immigration benefits. You must be married to spend your lives together – not to obtain a green card.
Under US immigration laws, you’re eligible to request a green card even in same-sex marriages. But under federal law, civil unions and domestic partnerships are not recognized as marriage. It’s worth mentioning that polygamy is not recognized as marriage under federal law.
You should also provide other documentation that shows you share your life as a couple. This can include things like joint bank documents, joint lease, deed, and anything that can tell you plan to spend your future together.
You may also be required to show an affidavit and any other statement about your relationship.
Family Sponsorship Form (1-130) Or Petition For Alien Relative
The sponsoring spouse who is a US citizen must provide proof of US citizenship. Examples of acceptable documents include a US passport, certificate of citizenship, US birth certificate, or naturalization certificate.
If the sponsoring spouse is a green card holder, he or she must prove the `permanent resident’ status. The spouse can provide a green card or a passport that bears the stamp of permanent residence in the US.
Finally, the spouses must show the change of official names. While a marriage certificate is usually sufficient, you may be required to provide adoption papers or a court order that shows a change of name.
Establishing Your Spouse’s Eligibility
The US government will determine eligibility by determining where your spouse lives.
If your spouse lives inside the US, you should file form 1-485. Some of the elements in the form include a medical examination by a USCIS-approved doctor and proof of lawful entry to the US (a copy of travel record).
The spouse seeking the green card will also be required to provide a copy of the passport and birth certificate. You’ll also be expected to pay a green card application fee of $1,140 and 85 dollars for biometrics.
Note: for spouses of US citizens, form 1-485 can be combined with the 1-130 form. However, for spouses of green card holders, form 1-485 cannot be submitted until the green card is in the visa bulletin. The waiting time is about 18 months, but once the form is submitted the process can take up to 11 months.
For green card applicants living abroad, one should apply at the National Visa Center. They gather the necessary documents and determine whether the spouse is ready for an interview with the consulate abroad or the US embassy.
Some of the elements for the national visa center (NVC) filling include form DS-260, proof of nationality (passport photo or birth certificate), and police clearance certificate. The sponsoring spouse must also show the financial capability to sponsor the spouse. You’ll also be required to pay $445 as government filing fees – $325 for the state department and $120 for financial support.
Review And Tracking Of Application
After you send your application to the US Citizenship and Immigration services, you’ll receive a receipt with a tracking number. A few months later, USCIS will send an invitation letter for biometrics as part of the background check.
The process involves taking a photo and fingerprints. If you plan on relocating, you should give USCIS details of your new address.
Attending The Interview
While most people believe the interview is just for formality- it is more than that. Since marriage interviews can be tough, you should prepare in advance. The questions are based on relationship history and plans for each other.
It can be helpful if you bring up-to-date documentation that shows joint lease, your children, shared pet, joint tax returns, etc. Make sure you have enough copies just in case the officer asks for them.
The interviewing officer may ask questions about your daily activities and extra questions that may suggest immigration fraud. This may include things like knowing your spouse two years before marriage, a large gap between you and the spouse, coming from a different background rather than your spouse. If the USCIS is convinced of the information you give, they will approve your green card.
If You Adjusted The Status With Form 1-485
Both you and the spouse may be required to attend the interview. The information you give will help to evaluate whether you want to build a life together or just using the status to get a green card. If you convince the USCIS officer that your marriage is real, he will approve your application.
If USCIS detects that your marriage was a fraud, you’ll be requested to appear for a second interview. Maybe the documents you provided didn’t give enough evidence that both of you are legally married. And because this is a high-stakes interview, you may want to seek legal counsel.
After the interview, you’ll have a sense of whether the documents will be approved or not. But you have to wait for the final confirmation. If the application is approved, your green card will be valid for ten years.
Any couple that has been together for two years will get a conditional green card. In such a case, you have to remove conditions on green card within 90 days before the conditional residency expires.
If the application is denied, there could be questions about your immigration status. But if you choose to reapply, you still have to pay the fees again. With this in mind, you must verify all your documents before you make the first application.
If you’re not in a status, you may be summoned to appear before immigration court for removal proceedings. And this is where the process of deportation begins.
Requirements For The Applicant
The person applying for a green card will automatically qualify as long as they are married to a green card holder or US citizen. But there are reasons why the application can be denied to an eligible person.
If there’s medical evidence that you have failed to take medical exams or receive specific vaccines, your application will be declined. Also, drug abuse will lead to automatic green card denial.
Violation Of Immigration Rules
Your marriage green card can be denied if you provide false information to USCIS or Customs and Border Protection officials to claim that you are a US citizen.
Another reason why the application may be declined is the use of a temporary visa. The government can decide it misrepresented the original intentions. But this can only be an issue if you make the application within 90 days or after you enter the United States.
If the applicant entered the US without inspection at the port of entry or didn’t have a valid visa, he will have to leave the country and make a fresh application.
If you’ve been convicted of a serious crime like drug trafficking, then your application will be declined. Also, those linked to terror organizations are seen as a security risk – no waivers are available.
On Public Charge Grounds
The US government will deny applications to individuals who struggle to support themselves. One way the officers evaluate whether you rely on public support is by checking your education and employment record.
How Long Does It Take To Apply For A Marriage Green Card?
The average waiting time for a marriage green card is 10-38 months – not including possible delays. Of course, the time it takes will depend on whether you’re a green card holder or a US citizen.
If your partner is a US citizen and you currently live in the United States, you’ll wait for 10-13 months. But if you live abroad, the process can take 11-17 months.
If your partner is a green card holder and you currently live in the United States, the waiting time is 29-38 months. But if you live abroad, then you have to wait for 23 to 32 months.
A marriage green card allows one to live and work in the US. Couples can qualify if one partner is a green card holder or a US citizen. Of course, you can apply from inside of the US or abroad. Be sure to follow the above tips to make the application process a breeze.
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