One of the most sought after immigration visas is the permanent resident status via a permanent resident card, also known as a green card. Among the most common ways an immigrant can get a green card is through marriage to a US Citizen or permanent resident. To promote family unity, immigration law allows U.S. citizens to petition for certain qualified relatives to come and live permanently in the United States. Immediate relatives have special immigration priority and do not have to wait in line for a visa number to become available for them to immigrate. Because there have been instances of people marrying US residents fraudulently for the purposes of obtaining permanent resident status, these marriages are scrutinized by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to ensure they are genuine.
Green Card through marriage to US citizens
US citizens can sponsor spouses as “immediate relatives.” Upon approval of the sponsor’s petition (Form I-130), a visa number is made available, and the beneficiary can apply for a US Green Card. If the beneficiary is in the US, that beneficiary will have to apply to have his/her status adjusted to Permanent Resident. If the spouse is outside the US, he/she will have to file for an immigration visa with a US consulate having jurisdiction over their place of residence.
Green Card through marriage to US permanent residents
US permanent residents, too, can sponsor spouses seeking to get a Green Card, but the process can take longer because a visa number will not be immediately available. Once the Form I-130 has been approved, spouses of Green Card holders will have to wait for their priority date — the date on which the sponsor filed the petition — to become current. When the date becomes current, a visa number is available, and the beneficiary can apply for a visa or to adjust his or her status.
K-1 Visa and Green Card through marriage
US citizens can also consider a different procedure: the K-1 visa, or Fiancé visa. This visa allows the fiancé of a US citizen to enter the United States for 90 days during which time they need to get married and then apply for a status adjustment.
Affidavit of Support
The petitioning spouse will have to prove to the US Government that he or she will be able to financially support the immigrant. This is done with the Affidavit of Support. The household income must be at least at 125% of the current poverty level. This income requirement must be proven by the spouse that currently resides in the United States by providing copies of tax returns for the last three years, job letters, and asset documents. Assets include banks statements for the last 12 months, ownership documents for stocks, bonds and certificates of deposit, evidence of personal property and date acquired, evidence of ownership of real estate, date acquired and liens or liabilities attached to same. These assets must be readily available to convert to cash within one year.
Two Year Marriage Requirement and Conditional Green Card
For those couples who petition the USCIS prior to their two year marriage anniversary, a “conditional green card” will be issued, which will require green card renewal later. This means that upon the two year marriage anniversary, both spouses will be required to appear for an interview with either an immigration official or consular officer to remove the conditions from the permanent resident card.
The entire process can take approximately ten to twelve months and there are added conditions to consider. For example, you will need special permission to leave the country while your application is being processed. The Gastelum Law firm has extensive experience in successfully filing marriage green card petitions. We work with clients nationwide who are seeking marriage based green cards and other family visas. We have successfully handled hundreds of marriage green card cases, can help prevent delays due to mistakes and can guide you through the current policies.