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Marriage-Based Green Cards

Marriage-Based Green Cards: Adjusting Your Status in the United States

If you are married to a U.S. citizen, or a legal permanent resident of the United States (Green Card holder), you may be eligible to apply for a marriage-based green card to become a legal permanent resident of the United States. This process involves filing Form I-130, petition for alien relative, and Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Spouses of U.S. citizens typically experience shorter processing times and have a direct path to citizenship. In many cases, the U.S.-based spouse can also petition for minor children to immigrate to the United States.

Common Questions and Answers About Marriage-Based Green Cards

What are the requirements for applying for a marriage-based green card?

To qualify for a marriage-based green card, the U.S. citizen spouse (or green card holder) must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, and I-485 Application Both spouses must provide proof of a bona fide marriage, such as joint bank account statements, lease agreements, and photos together. Additionally, the marriage must be legal under U.S. law.

What evidence do I need to demonstrate that our marriage is bona fide?

You should submit documents that show you share a life together, such as joint financial statements, insurance policies, property deeds, and photographs of your wedding and other significant events. Correspondence and affidavits from friends and relatives can also support your application.

After filing, how soon will the interview take place?

Once USCIS approves your Form I-130, they will schedule an interview. The timing can vary significantly depending on the caseload of your local USCIS office.

Are there financial requirements for the U.S. citizen spouse?

Yes, the U.S. citizen must demonstrate the ability to financially support the spouse seeking a green card. This involves meeting at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines as per the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864).

What if the U.S. citizen’s income is insufficient?

If the U.S. citizen does not meet the income requirements, a joint sponsor who meets the income criteria may submit an Affidavit of Support on behalf of the beneficiary.

What additional forms are involved in the process?

After marrying and entering the U.S., the spouse must file Form I-485 to adjust their status to permanent resident. If applicable, Form I-765 for a work permit and Form I-131 for a travel document may also be filed concurrently.

Can the minor children of my spouse immigrate as well?

Yes, minor children can be included in the green card application. They need to apply for admission under the IR-2 visa category.

What happens if the marriage ends before obtaining permanent residence?

If the marriage ends due to divorce or annulment before adjusting status, the foreign spouse may lose eligibility to adjust status based on that marriage. However, exceptions exist, such as the provisions under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for abused spouses.

How long after receiving my green card can I apply for U.S. citizenship?

You can apply for naturalization three years after obtaining your green card, provided your stay married and live with your US citizen spouse. (Provided you meet all other eligibility requirements.)

We Can Answer Your Family Immigration Questions

At Fok Immigration Law, we have extensive experience helping families unite here in the U.S. by guiding our clients through the complexities of the U.S. immigration system. If you have any questions about the marriage-based green card process, please contact our San Jose office at 408-606-8911, or reach out to our California immigration attorneys online.