What You Need to Know About Obtaining a Green Card Through Marriage

Photo of a Couple After Getting Married

Becoming an official citizen of the United States is a complicated and lengthy process. Fortunately, there are other options for individuals looking to stay, work, and live in the country without immediately becoming a citizen. One of these options is the ever-popular green card.

A green card can be obtained through marriage to a current citizen. This is one of the quickest ways to immigrate, but there are several steps that need to be closely followed.

Filing an Immigration Petition

The first step requires your soon-to-be spouse to file an immigration petition. This is also known as Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. By completing this form, your spouse will establish the existence of a qualifying relationship while, at the same time, requesting an immigrant visa.

This process is noticeably shortened because spouses of citizens are considered immediate relatives. Like a mother, father, or sibling, this relationship has earned a degree of priority. There is no numerical limit on the number of immediate relatives that can obtain a green card this way.

Completing the Application

Once your relationship has been established, it’s time to apply for your green card. How you proceed is based on whether you are currently living in the United States.

If you currently reside outside the country, you’ll need to apply for your green card through consular processing. After your spouse’s I-130 has been approved, the petition will be transferred to the National Visa Center. The center will then coordinate the transfer of your case to the embassy or consulate in the country where you reside.

At this point, you’ll find an agent, pay the application fee, and submit an official application. This can be prepared and completed through the Department of State website. Expect this process to take anywhere from 6 to 10 weeks.

If you currently reside in the United States, you’ll be able to adjust your status to “permanent resident” (or green card holder) at the same time as filing the I-130. Just file Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status, and all other required forms concurrently with your petition.

To receive a full list of required documentation and to discuss legal requirements, speak with an immigration law specialist. They will be able to assist in preparing and completing your package.

Ensuring a Valid Marriage

The green card through marriage process is closely scrutinized to eliminate couples who aren’t actually interested in getting married. In order to complete the process and receive your card, you must provide a legally-binding marriage certificate.

You’ll also need to provide evidence that your marriage is about more than paper. Documents showing the co-mingling of financial resources, documents showing joint ownership of property, birth certificates of any children born into the marriage, or a joint lease can be used as evidence in this case.

Attending the Interview

The most important part of the process will be your green card interview. During this interview, you should be prepared to answer any questions and bring all documentation you’ve needed thus far. An immigration law expert can help prepare you for this meeting.

Contact an Experienced Immigration Attorney to Learn More

The process of obtaining a green card through marriage can feel long and complicated — especially when you’re trying to focus on your big day. For assistance and expertise, contact an immigration attorney at The Gambacorta Law Office, LLC by calling 847-443-9303.