Get a Green Card By Marrying a US Citizen

October 30, 2011 § 1 Comment

US citizens who get married to foreign nationals can petition them to obtain permanent residence in the US. Spouses of US citizens are termed as “immediate relatives” and are exempt from all numerical quota limitations. Getting a green card through marriage to a US citizen is the fastest way to getting a green card. Battered spouses and children of US citizens or green card holders can get special benefits per US immigration laws. A US citizen can also get a temporary visa for his/her fiancé(e) and get married once he/she arrives in the US.

Marriage in the US:

To get started, you, the US citizen have to submit a visa petition through Form I-130. You have to also include Forms G-325 (Biographical forms) for both the husband and wife. In addition, attach proof of your citizenship (US Passport, a Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship or a certified copy of the citizen’s birth certificate). Do not forget to include a certified copy of the marriage certificate and certified copies of the documents if previous marriages were terminated (including final divorce decrees, and certificates of annulment or death.)

The foreign national spouse is required to submit an application for adjustment of status (Form I-485) with the USCIS. After receiving and reviewing your application, the USCIS will notify to appear for an interview within a few months.

Marriage outside the US:

Per previous laws, the foreign national spouse had to remain in his/her country until he/she obtained a green card. But after August 14, 2001, temporary K-3 and K-4 visas became available and this helped the spouse and children of US citizens to get temporary visas to come to the US and then process the paperwork in the US.

You, the US citizen spouse have to file a visa petition either to the USCIS office which has jurisdiction over your residence or directly to the US Embassy or Consulate in the country where your foreign national spouse resides. As soon as the visa petition is approved, your foreign national spouse will receive a package from the National Visa Center (NVC). This package will have detailed information about the documents that has to be presented at the immigrant visa interview abroad (passport, police clearances, medical examination results, etc.). It will also contain certain documents requesting biographic data that has to be completed, signed and forwarded to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Generally, your foreign national spouse will be interviewed and issued an immigrant visa within three to six months. The State Department charges a fee to issue an immigrant visa.

Conditional Residence:

The conditional resident card that is issued is valid for two years. Both you and your spouse are required to file a joint petition (Form I-751) to remove the two-year condition. Remember to file it within the 90-day period before the end of the two year period. If your marriage was terminated due to divorce, death of the citizen spouse or spousal abuse, the foreign national spouse can qualify for and may apply for a waiver of the joint petition requirement at any time before the end of the two-year period. Once the USCIS approves your petition, they will issue a permanent resident card with a ten year validity.


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